Employment Cases Update

Department of Work and Pensions v Boyers UKEAT/0282/19/AT

Date published: 29/06/2020

Appeal against the ET’s judgment upholding the Claimant’s claim of disability discrimination. Appeal allowed.

The Claimant, who had worked for the Respondent for more than 10 years, was on long-term sickness absence as a result of work-related stress, and she was subsequently dismissed on the grounds of capability. The Claimant brought claims for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination, both of which were upheld in the ET. As regards the disability discrimination claim, there was no dispute that the Claimant was disabled, or that her dismissal was unfavourable treatment arising from her disability; the question was whether the dismissal was a proportionate means of achieving the legitimate aims of protecting scarce public resources and/or reducing the strain on other employees caused by the Claimant's absence, and the ET concluded that it was. The Respondent appealed against the finding of disability discrimination, contending that the ET had failed to undertake the required balancing exercise between an employer's need to serve the legitimate aims, on the one hand, and the discriminatory effect on the dismissed employee, on the other.

The EAT held that the ET erred in basing its analysis of proportionality on the actions and thought processes of the Respondent's managers, rather than on a balancing of the needs of the Respondent and the discriminatory impact on the Claimant. Accordingly, the claim would be remitted to the same ET for it to reconsider whether the dismissal of the Claimant was a proportionate means of achieving either of the legitimate aims identified.

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