Madeleine Southey represents successful claimant in disability discrimination and failure to make reasonable adjustments case against ex-employer

22 April 2024

Madeleine Southey represented the successful claimant, RG, in a claim against his former employer on the basis of disability discrimination resulting in dismissal and failure to make reasonable adjustments.

Background to the employment tribunal proceedings

RG had been employed by a motor vehicle retailer from November 2015 until April 2023. He had a longstanding health condition relating to his back and had previously taken time off work following surgery in 2019.

While waiting for the operation in 2019, his employer had made adjustments to RG’s role to enable him to work in a less physically demanding capacity.

In July 2022, RG’s back issues started again and he began a period of sick leave the next month. His second operation was delayed for various reasons out of his control and in March 2023, concerned that his statutory sick pay would stop, he returned to work.

Subsequently, he attended meetings with his employer to discuss alternative roles but these were dismissed as options.

Following an occupational therapist's assessment, RG attended a final meeting with his employer in April 2023 after which his employment was terminated.

The claim
  • RG brought a claim under s.15 and ss.20-21 of the Equality Act 2010 concerning disability discrimination and failure to make reasonable adjustments.
  • RG’s employer accepted that he had been unfavourably treated because of something disability-related in terms of the dismissal.
  • Therefore, the case turned on whether the treatment could be justified by the company.
Tribunal findings

The tribunal found that:

  • RG's employer had failed to make reasonable adjustments under s.15 and ss.20-21 of the Equality Act 2010.
  • RG was treated unfavourably by his employer by reason of something arising in consequence with his disability and their justification defence failed.

The tribunal rejected the RG’s claim for lost earnings on the basis that he would have been unlikely to have returned to work sooner if he had not been dismissed. However, RG was awarded £10,000 for injury to feelings.