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An employment tribunal had erred in law when making findings that an employee had suffered direct disability discrimination and the Employment Appeal Tribunal had erred in remitting the matter for the issue to be considered afresh.
The appellant employer (M) appealed against a decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal to remit a claim to the employment tribunal to consider afresh whether the respondent employee (C) had been the subject of direct disability discrimination.
C, who had been employed as an executive director, had been absent from work following an accident. When he returned, he worked limited hours and was subsequently assessed as being disabled under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. C issued proceedings complaining that he had received a much lower bonus than the previous year and that was because of his disability. He was subsequently dismissed for redundancy on the basis that he had not taken sufficient steps to broaden his client base. He issued a claim for unfair dismissal on the grounds of disability. The employment tribunal found there had been no disability-related discrimination but that C had suffered direct disability discrimination. The EAT allowed M's appeal on the basis that findings of direct discrimination could not stand. However, it further held that there was evidence from which direct discrimination could be inferred and remitted the case for the issue to be considered afresh.
HELD: The employment tribunal had erred in law in finding direct discrimination and, as such, the EAT was wrong to remit the matter for reconsideration. The findings of the employment tribunal identified the reasons for C's treatment and recognised that they were for reasons related to his disability but were not because of the disability itself. Since a non-disabled person would be treated the same way the claims for direct disability discrimination could not succeed and no purpose would be served by remitting the case. M had not committed any act of direct disability discrimination with respect to either the bonus or the dismissal (see paras 38-39 of judgment).
Counsel for the appellant: Emma Smith
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