5. Discrimination arising from a disability
The Court of Appeal looked at a case involving disability-related discrimination contrary to section 15 of the Equality Act.
Section 15 of the Equality Act provides that a person discriminates against a disabled person if they treat the disabled person unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of their disability and the person committing the discrimination cannot show that the treatment is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
In City of York Council v Grosset, Mr. Grosset suffered a disability in the form of cystic fibrosis. His employer was aware of his condition and they made reasonable adjustments, but when a new head teacher was appointed, who was not informed of Mr Grosset’s disability or the reasonable adjustments that had been agreed. In addition, there was a change to the performance standards which applied to schools and this led to an increased workload for Mr Grosset, who became stressed.
While under this level of stress, he showed a small class of 15-16 years old an 18 rated film. He had not obtained permission from the students’ parents and he had not asked the school for approval. As a result of the incident, disciplinary proceedings were initiated, which ultimately led to Mr Grosset being dismissed for gross misconduct.
The Court of Appeal confirmed that a dismissal can constitute unfavourable treatment under section 15 of the Equality Act even if the employer was unaware that the disability was linked to the misconduct.