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Reasonable Adjustments

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Thanks to Vanessa James of SA Law for preparing this case summary.

Does an employer breach its duty to make reasonable adjustments by requiring a disabled employee to undergo a competitive interview process?

Possibly, but not in the case of Wade v Sheffield Hallam University, decided by the EAT.

Following a reorganisation at the University, the Claimant's role was deleted and she applied for a new post in 2006.  She was unsuccessful on two essential criteria. In 2008 the same job vacancy arose, and again the Claimant was rejected.

Applying the provisions then in place under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the key question facing the EAT was whether or not the duty to make reasonable adjustments was breached by the employer's requirement that the Claimant go through a competitive interview process, rather than automatically appointing her to the new role.

In rejecting the claim, the employment tribunal considered Archibald v Fife Council [2004] IRLR 651, in which the House of Lords indicated that disapplying a competitive interview process can be a reasonable adjustment. The EAT confirmed that on the current facts there was no breach of the duty to make reasonable adjustments because the Claimant could not meet the essential criteria necessary for the role.