Stott v Ralli Ltd EA-2019-000772-VP

Appeal against an ET decision dismissing the Claimant's complaint, pursuant to section 15 Equality Act 2010, that the dismissal was an act of discrimination because of something arising in consequence of disability. Appeal dismissed.

The Claimant worked as a paralegal for the Respondent solicitors. She was dismissed for poor performance. The Respondent conceded that the Claimant had at the relevant time a mental impairment amounting to a disability, but it denied knowledge of that disability at the time of the dismissal. Its case was that the Claimant had only raised mental health issues for the first time following the dismissal. Also, for the first time in these proceedings, the Claimant contended that she was dyslexic and appeared to suggest that this was a reason for her errors and performance. The ET dismissed her claim of discrimination arising from disability. The ET considered that the Respondent had demonstrated that it had a legitimate aim, namely that of maintaining a high standard of and accuracy in English language in written communications with clients and with the courts, as would be expected of a professional solicitors’ firm. The treatment of the Claimant in terms of supervision, efforts to correct her work and ultimately dismissal, were a proportionate means of achieving that legitimate aim. The Respondent had made efforts to train the Claimant and to correct her mistakes but to no avail. The Claimant failed to follow the supervision and guidance given to her. The only alternative outcome therefore was that the Claimant’s employment be terminated for her performance.

The EAT dismissed the appeal. The tribunal erred because it failed in its decision to make a specific finding about whether the “something” for which the claimant was dismissed, being her poor performance, arose in consequence of her disability. However, at the time of dismissal the respondent lacked knowledge or constructive knowledge of the disability. Although the effect of the tribunal’s findings was that, by the later time when it dismissed a grievance about the dismissal, the respondent had acquired constructive knowledge of the disability, the tribunal was not wrong, in this particular case, to proceed on the basis that there was no complaint about the later dismissal of that grievance. Baldeh v Churches Housing Association of Dudley & District Limited, [2019] UKEAT/0249/19, considered. The tribunal also did not err in concluding that the justification defence was made out. The ET therefore did not, ultimately, err in dismissing this section 15 claim.

Published: 21/10/2021 10:34

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