Is it harassment and direct discrimination to suspend a teacher who can only write by hand for a few minutes?
No, held the EAT in Ahmed v The Cardinal Hume Academies.
The Claimant had dyspraxia, a condition affecting co-ordination. The school were concerned he could not fulfil his role and suspended him pending investigation. The Claimant submitted a formal grievance and resigned claiming constructive dismissal.
The tribunal dismissed the Claimant's claim.
The Claimant appealed to the EAT on the basis that s26(4) of the ERA had not been properly considered. He alleged that the tribunal had placed too much emphasis on whether it was reasonable for the conduct to have caused harassment and had failed to consider the perception of the alleged victim or the other circumstance of the case.
The EAT confirmed the Court of Appeal case of Pemberton v Inwood. Reasonableness is the first hurdle to be cleared, if it is not, the further factors in s24(4) need not be considered.
The EAT also found that the Claimant's handwriting was an adverse effect of his disability and not the disability itself. The suspension could therefore not be discrimination directly because of disability.
Thanks to Harry Wiltshire of Broadway House Chambers for preparing this case summary.