The Chief Constable of Norfolk v Coffey UKEAT/0260/16/BA

Appeal against a decision that a refusal to grant the Claimant a transfer within the police force because of a perception that her current hearing problems might become a disability in the future amounted to direct perceived disability discrimination. Appeal dismissed.

The Respondent rejected a request for a transfer because the the Claimant's hearing was below the standard for recruitment. The Respondent regarded the Claimant as a "non-disabled permanently restricted officer" and that financial restraints would increase the pressure on the pool of officers who were operationally deployable. The ET identified two issues for decision: 1) Did the Respondent perceive the Claimant to be disabled by reason of her hearing loss; and 2)  Was the rejection of the Claimant's application to transfer to the Respondent less favourable treatment because of the perceived disability?  The ET ruled that the Respondent had perceived the Claimant had a disability which could not be accommodated by reasonable adjustments or perceived she would require adjustments in the future and therefore she had suffered direct perceived disability discrimination. The Respondent appealed.

The EAT dismissed the appeal. The Respondent thought the Claimant's condition could well progress to the extent that she would have to be placed on restricted duties; this risk was at the very least part of the reason why they did not accept her application for a transfer.  If the Claimant's condition were to progress to the extent that it required her to be placed on restricted duties, there would be a substantial adverse effect on her day-to-day activities, having regard to the definition of disability in Ring. Hence the Respondent, despite their protestation to the contrary, did perceive the Claimant to be disabled.

Published: 21/12/2017 11:43

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