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Discrimination: Unfavourable Treatment

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Is ‘unfavourable treatment’ to be equated with detriment, for the purposes of a claim of discrimination in consequence of something arising from a disability?

No, held the Court of Appeal in Trustees of Swansea University Pension & Assurance Scheme & Anor v Williams.

The Claimant took ill-health retirement, aged 38, and received a pension as if he had worked until retirement at 67 without actuarial reduction, payable immediately upon retirement. However, the pension was calculated on a part-time salary; before retiring the Claimant had worked part-time to accommodate his disabilities. He claimed that the failure to pay him the equivalent full-time pension was unfavourable treatment in consequence of something arising from his disability.

The Tribunal upheld his claim, equating 'unfavourable' with the concept of 'detriment'. Subsequently, the EAT overturned this decision. Now the Court of Appeal has upheld the EAT’s decision but set aside the order for remission to the employment tribunal, dismissing the claims.

The critical question was whether treatment, which confers advantages on a disabled person, but would have conferred greater advantages had his disability arisen more suddenly, amounts to “unfavourable treatment” within s 15. The Court of Appeal concluded it did not, and supported the EAT’s analysis.

Note: The solicitors for Mr Williams have stated they intend to seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Thanks to Imogen Egan of Outer Temple Chambers for preparing this case summary.