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Disability Discrimination

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[Thanks to Anna Thomas of Devereux Chambers for providing this case summary]

The case of Aitken v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis is authority for the proposition that treatment on the basis of a mistaken perception that an employee is suffering from a particular disability does not fall within the definition of direct disability or disability-related discrimination.

In this case a police officer (who suffered from OCD) contended that, following the ECJ's reasoning in Attridge Law LLP v Coleman, s3 Disability Discrimination Act should be interpreted so as to include discrimination on the grounds of perceived disability. The EAT disagreed. Slade J held:

  • the case was not one in which the Respondent acted on the basis of an assumption that the claimant had a dangerous mental illness; rather the Respondent acted on the basis of how the Claimant presented himself
  • in any event the words of section s3 DDA ['...the disabled person's disability '] are distinguishable from those used in other discrimination statutes which do not relate the relevant characteristic to the complainant
  • DDA requires an actual disability albeit, since Coleman, the actual disability of a person related to the complainant