EAT Rules That Perceiving Condition as a Disability is Discriminatory

EAT Rules That Perceiving Condition as a Disability is Discriminatory

  • Date: Monday 22nd January 2018
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An Employment Appeal Tribunal has found that it can be considered direct disability discrimination for an employer to reject a job applicant based on an assumption that an existing condition could become a disability in the future.

In this case, a job applicant was working for Wiltshire Constabulary but was seeking a transfer to Norfolk Constabulary.  The applicant had mild hearing loss and tinnitus which was highlighted at a pre-employment health screening.  The screening found that the candidate was below the usual standard for recruitment to join Norfolk Constabulary.  The Constabulary declined the application because the candidate had hearing below the published medical standard.

The applicant claimed the decision not to recruit her was made on the basis of perceived disability and direct discrimination.

The Employment Tribunal found that Norfolk Constabulary had perceived the applicant to have a disability which could not be accommodated by reasonable adjustments, or perceived she would require adjustments in the future.

The Employment Tribunal Appeal agreed with the original finding that the Constabulary had been wrong to reject the candidate on the grounds of perceived disability.


  • Employers should not reject job applicants on the basis that a current health condition might become a disability
  • Where a candidate has an underlying medical condition, an employer should seek to implement reasonable adjustments to enable them to fulfil the role
  • Health Screening should be conducted after an offer has been made to the candidate 
  • Employers that conduct medical screening for roles requiring a minimum health standard (that can be linked to a disability or potential future disability) need to consider reasonable adjustments instead of simply declining a job applicant.

Source: Gavin Parrott, SSG


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