Employers need to be aware of the way in which ‘normal day-to-day activities’ may be interpreted by a tribunal for the purpose of a disability discrimination claim, following a recent ruling.
In this case, a police officer suffered from ME and was required to work night shifts as part of his work pattern. One of the symptoms of his condition was that he suffered mobility problems, especially in the early hours of the morning, which clearly affected his ability to perform his duties on night shift, and for a period of time afterwards. When the officer was dismissed, he brought a claim in an employment tribunal that he had been discriminated against on grounds of disability, and the tribunal agreed. The employer appealed, arguing that the officer had not been carrying out ‘normal’ day-to-day duties when he experienced his mobility problems, because they occurred in the early hours of the morning while he was performing his specialised job as a policeman. However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) rejected the employer’s argument, stating that there were enough night shift workers in the UK for working in the early hours to be a ‘normal’ activity for the purposes of the disability legislation.