Linton v The Athelstan Trust [2024] EAT 14

Appeal against a ruling that the Claimant was not disabled within the meaning of the EqA 2010 and against the imposition of a deposit order against the Claimant. Appeals allowed.

The Claimant had sought to pursue claims of disability discrimination under section 15 EqA and of automatic unfair dismissal under section 103A ERA 1996. In pursuing his claim of disability discrimination, he contended that he was disabled by reason of suffering PTSD as a result of a diving accident some 25 years previously, after which he had experienced a substantial adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Although acknowledging that that effect had ceased for a number of years, it was the Claimant’s case that, given a relevant trigger event, it was likely to recur, and had done so when the requirement to wear face masks had been introduced during the pandemic. The ET found, however, that the Claimant was not disabled for the purposes of section 6 EqA. Giving little weight to the medical report relied on in support of the Claimant’s case, the ET found that any problems arising from the Claimant’s PTSD had resolved after two years and there was no formal diagnosis of PTSD at the time of the discrimination complained of. As for the claim of automatic unfair dismissal, the ET considered there was contemporaneous evidence to support the Respondent’s case that the Claimant had been dismissed for performance reasons and not because of any protected disclosure. Finding that the Claimant may have difficulties making good his case, the ET made a deposit order in respect of this claim. The Claimant appealed.

The EAt allowed both appeals. In addressing the question of disability, the ET had accepted that the Claimant had suffered a trauma as a result of a diving accident some 25 years previously and appeared to have accepted that this had given rise to the effects he had described (nightmares, claustrophobia) for two years; it was unclear whether the ET had also accepted that the Claimant had thereby suffered an impairment, or whether the adverse effects he experienced were “substantial”, and “long-term” or “likely to recur”. The Claimant’s case was supported by a medical report that post-dated the alleged discriminatory acts but the ET gave this little weight. The ET’s reasons for not giving weight to the medical report manifested a failure to engage with the issues that arose for determination in this case and did not provide a proper basis for rejecting the expert opinion evidence. Turning to the deposit order, the ET had failed to provide any reasons to explain the basis on which it had rejected the Claimant’s case on the question of performance and his challenge to the veracity of what was said to be the contemporaneous evidence relied on by the Respondent.

Published: 14/03/2024 13:59

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