Ciry of York Council v Grosset [2018] EWCA Civ 1105

Appeal against a finding that the dismissal of the Claimant was an act of disability-related discrimination contrary to section 15 EqA. Appeal dismissed.

The Claimant was a teacher who suffers from a disability in the form of cystic fibrosis. The Claimant's case was that he was subjected to an increased workload which he found he could not cope with. Whilst subject to this high level of stress, the claimant showed a class of 15- year-olds an 18-rated horror film, entitled Halloween. He did not obtain approval for this from the school. Nor did he obtain consent from the pupils' parents. When the school learned about this, disciplinary charges were brought against the claimant. These resulted in his summary dismissal for gross misconduct. The Claimant accepted that showing the film was inappropriate and maintained that it had happened as a result of an error of judgment on his part arising from the high level of stress he was under at the time in consequence of his disability. The ET held that section 15 EqA did not require there to be an immediate causative link with the claimant's disability. It was satisfied that the error of judgment for which the claimant was dismissed arose in consequence of his disability. Accordingly, the ET concluded that the dismissal was an act of disability-related discrimination contrary to section 15 EqA, a ruling the EAT upheld (read the EAT judgment here, and the Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. They rejected the argument that the Respondent must be shown to have been aware when choosing to subject the Claimant to the unfavourable treatment in question that the relevant "something" (i.e. the showing of the film) arose in consequence of the Claimant's disability. It was not possible to spell out of section 15(1)(a) EqA 2010 this further requirement. As regards justification under section 15(1)(b) EqA 2010, the court also held that there was no inconsistency between the ET's rejection of the claimant's claim of unfair dismissal and its upholding his claim under section 15 EqA in respect of his dismissal. This is because the test in relation to unfair dismissal proceeds by reference to whether dismissal was within the range of reasonable responses available to an employer, thereby allowing a significant latitude of judgment for the employer itself. By contrast, the test under section 15(1)(b) EqA is an objective one, according to which the ET must make its own assessment.

Published: 17/05/2018 09:53