Employment Cases Update

Owen v AMEC Foster Wheeler Energy Ltd and another [2019] EWCA Civ 822

Date published: 16/05/2019

Appeal against the EAT’s decision upholding the decision of the ET that the Claimant had not suffered direct or indirect disability discrimination or a failure to make reasonable adjustments. Appeal dismissed.

The Claimant is a disabled person, and he worked as a chemical engineer. He was among several employees who were requested by an important client of the First Respondent to take up an assignment in Dubai. This opportunity was denied to him by the Respondents, because his disabilities were considered to give rise to a high risk of medical complications if he were to be deployed at a remote location. The Claimant complained that this amounted to direct disability discrimination under s 13 Equality Act 2010 ("EqA 2010"), indirect disability discrimination under s 19, and a breach of the duty to make reasonable adjustments under s 20. The ET rejected his claims, and the EAT upheld the ET's decision.

The Claimant appealed on 4 grounds: (1) in holding that there was no less favourable treatment because of disability, the ET misdirected itself and erred in focusing on the Respondent's explanation or motivation for why it refused the overseas assignment, rather than on the reason itself; (2) the ET further misdirected itself and erred in its approach to constructing the hypothetical comparator; (3) in relation to the duty to make reasonable adjustments, the ET erred in failing to follow the structured approach required for s 21 EqA 2010; and (4) in relation to the claim for indirect discrimination, having misdirected itself on s 13 EqA 2010 and having misapplied s 21, the ET was not in a proper position to address the proportionality test.

The Court of Appeal held that the ET had not erred in law, and that all of the grounds of appeal should be rejected.

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Read the full text of the judgment on BAILII or download the file by clicking the link below.

Employment Claims without a Lawyer 2nd edition published March 2018