Disability discrimination: the case of Gallop v Newport City Council
Head of Employment, Ted Flanagan, explains the impact of the Gallop v Newport City Council case and what it means for employers.
The Claimant in Gallop v Newport City Council was suffering from ‘work related stress’. The Respondent organised an Occupational Health Report. This advised the Claimant didn’t meet the legal definition of disability because he was not depressed. The Claimant was absent on and off for the next two years. Occupational Health continued to confirm that Mr Gallop didn’t meet the legal definition of disability although didn’t say why. The Respondent dismissed Mr Gallop on ill health grounds. Mr Gallop issued a claim for disability discrimination.
The Tribunal stated that they believed Mr Gallop was disabled. But as the Respondent didn’t know this, they couldn’t have discriminated against him. The case went to the Court of Appeal and they stated that if the employer knew that the employee had a physical or mental impairment which had a big and long term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, then the employer had the knowledge of disability even if they didn’t know whether he was defined as such.
What this means for you
An employer can only discriminate against an employee on the grounds of disability if the employer knows that there is a disability to begin with. This case highlights the importance of not taking the medical or Occupational Health assessment as the only factor in deciding this.
Whether an employer knows that an employee is disabled is a matter of fact for an employer to decide. Medical evidence is extremely helpful, but an employer must come to their own conclusion based on all their knowledge, not just the medical reports.
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