Gray v University Of Portsmouth EA-2019-000891-OO

Appeal against the dismissal of the Claimant's complaint of section 15 discrimination. Appeal allowed.

After a lengthy period of sickness absence related to his disability (stress combined with a diagnosis of autism), the Claimant was dismissed from his position as Service Delivery Analyst within the Respondent’s Information Service department. Rejecting his complaint of section 15 discrimination, the ET concluded this had been a proportionate means of achieving the legitimate aim of ensuring the efficient running of the department, as part of the overall provision of services to students. The Claimant appealed.

The EAT allowed the appeal. In determining whether the Respondent had shown that the Claimant’s dismissal was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, the ET was required to demonstrate that it had carried out the necessary critical evaluation (Hardy & Hansons plc v Lax [2005] EWCA Civ 846, [2005] ICR 1565 applied). Although the ET had referred to the position as being “obvious”, that was not demonstrated by the ET’s reasoning in this case; in particular, there were no findings as to the level of need, about the Claimant’s role, or about the impact of his absence, and the evidence of the Respondent had provided differing potential explanations for why the Claimant’s dismissal was a proportionate measure in this case but it was unclear which had been accepted by the ET. More generally, it was unclear whether and, if so, how the ET had weighed the needs of the Respondent’s undertaking against the discriminatory effect of the dismissal; that failure rendered the ET’s conclusion unsafe.

Published: 03/12/2021 14:11

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