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Disability Discrimination: Reliance on Occupational Health

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In the absence of other evidence, will an employer's reliance on occupational health reports to determine whether their employee is disabled be considered a rubber-stamping exercise?

Not necessarily, held the EAT in Kelly v Royal Mail Group Ltd.

The Claimant had a poor attendance record. After absences to undergo carpal tunnel syndrome surgeries, he triggered the final stage of the Respondent's Attendance Policy and was dismissed.

He brought a claim for, amongst other things, discrimination arising from disability. The tribunal dismissed his claim on the basis that the Respondent did not have actual or constructive knowledge of his disability.

The Claimant appealed to the EAT. One of the grounds of appeal was that the tribunal erred in finding that the Respondent had properly considered the question of disability when it had simply relied on the occupational health reports.

The EAT held that when the occupational health reports consider the question of disability in detail, and in the absence of any other evidence (including evidence from the Claimant and his representative), reliance on them will not be considered a rubber-stamping exercise (an option not open to the employer in Gallop v Newport City Council).

Thanks to Alexandra Sidossis for preparing this case summary.