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Reasonable Adjustments / Aggravated Damages

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[Thanks to Natasha Sethi of Henderson Chambers for preparing this case summary]

The EAT (Underhill P) has handed down its decision in Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust v Mr Mylott, which is authority for the proposition that a Tribunal is not entitled to find that section 4A of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 gives rise to a duty on the employer of a disabled employee to take steps to facilitate an application for ill health retirement. Reasonable adjustments involve steps to enable the employee to stay in employment, not to compensate him for having to leave it. The EAT found that offering ill-health retirement, therefore, does not fall within the scope of "reasonable adjustments".

In quashing the Tribunal's decision to make an award of aggravated damages, the EAT warned that a finding of malice against a manager is a serious finding, which is not to be made lightly and which must be fully supported if made. The Tribunal had found that the Deputy Director of Finance had acted in a brusque and insensitive manner towards the employee and that in giving evidence she was both dismissive and evasive. However, the EAT held that none of those observations were capable of supporting a finding of aggravated damages.