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Disability Discrimination

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[Thanks to Michael Reed, Employment Legal Officer at the Free Representation Unit, for preparing this case summary]

Does the duty to make reasonable adjustments end when an employee goes on sick leave? Sometimes, but in Olenloa v North West London Hospitals the EAT emphasised that such a conclusion must be based on specific findings of fact.

Mr Olenloa said his employer failed to make reasonable adjustments to his disability. He went on sick leave from 29th September 2010 and presented a claim on 28th January 2011.

At a PHR the tribunal dismissed much of the claim as out of time. They concluded any failure to make adjustments to his work ended when Mr Olenloa went sick. Adjustments to his job became moot once he was no longer at work.

The EAT disagreed, finding the tribunal had not reached the factual findings needed to justify its conclusion.

Mr Olenloa's case was that reasonable adjustments would have prevent him going sick. And, even if made later, allowed him to return. Therefore, the tribunal needed to identify what adjustments were reasonable and what affect they would have had. Without such findings, it could not determine for what period the duty applied or identify the deadline for presenting a claim.