employment law Cases

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Richmond Adult Community College v McDougall [2008] EWCA Civ 4

Disability discrimination. The assessment of disability and the likelihood of disability recurring

M had suffered from psychological disorders but recovered after medical treatment. M was offered a job as a database assistant for the College. When the College learned of M's medical history it withdrew the offer. M brought a disability discrimination claim.

The employment tribunal accepted that M had a mental impairment but held that she was not disabled within the meaning of section 1 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, as the impairment did not have a substantial and long-term adverse effect and there was no evidence that the condition was likely to recur.

The EAT reversed the decision, stating that the tribunal ought to have taken into account medical evidence between the date of the discrimination and the hearing of the claim, which showed a relapse.

The College appealed on the basis that when considering whether the effect of a medical condition was likely to recur the employer had to base its decision on the circumstances existing at that date, and that what actually happened after that date was not relevant to the tribunal's decision.

The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal. On the facts, there was no evidence at the time of the decision that M's condition was likely to recur. The tribunal should only consider evidence available at the relevant time.