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Volunteers not covered by Disability Discrimination Act

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[Thanks to Will Dobson of Cloisters for preparing this case summary]

X v Mid-Sussex CAB is authority for the proposition that 'volunteers' (such as unpaid charity or CAB workers) are not protected by the Disability Discrimination Act or the EU Framework Directive.

The Claimant was a volunteer part time advisor at the CAB. She had no contract. She left in circumstances which she alleged amounted to discrimination on grounds of her disability. She argued she was protected by the EU Directive, and that the DDA should be 'read down' to provide that protection.

Burton J, in the EAT, held that her claim should be struck out. He held "employment" in the Directive requires a material contract between the parties. He observed there was no jurisprudence to suggest that "occupation" meant unpaid employment; also, that the Directive offered protection only in relation to "access" to occupation. He held the Directive was not intended to protect volunteers in the Claimant's position and declined to make a reference to the ECJ on the point.