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The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has provided the first appellate guidance on what constitutes unfavourable” treatment for discrimination arising from disability under the Equality Act 2010.

Mr Williams reduced his hours to accommodate the effects of his disability. By July 2011, his hours had halved, with his salary reduced to reflect this. He accepted ill-health retirement in June 2013, at the age of 38.

Mr Williams complained to the employment tribunal that he was unfavourably treated because of something that had arisen in consequence of his disability, contrary to s.15 of the Equality Act 2010.

An employer can successfully defend a claim if it can justify the unfavourable treatment on the basis that it was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

The EAT upheld the respondent’s appeal pointing out that it was the claimant who had requested a reduction in hours, a request to which his employer willingly acceded. The employer was fulfilling its duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments.

The EAT stressed that  “unfavourable” treatment under s.15 of the Equality Act 2010 it does not mean the same as a “detriment” or “less favourable” treatment. Instead, it has a similar meaning to the use of the word in pregnancy discrimination, in the sense of “placing a hurdle in front of, or creating a particular difficulty for, or disadvantaging a person” because of something that arises in consequence of his or her disability.

The EAT also said that it does not matter whether or not the alleged discriminator thought that what it was doing was justified, nor does it matter that it took every care to avoid making a discriminatory decision. What has to be shown to be justified is the outcome, not the process by which the outcome was achieved.

Citation: [2015] ICR 1197, [2015] UKEAT 0415_14_2107    

Case can be read (FREE) here: http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKEAT/2015/0415_14_2107.html