The Employment Appeal Tribunal has held that an employee, dismissed during her probationary period for poor performance, was not discriminated against because her employer was only made aware of her disability following the dismissal (Stott v Ralli Ltd).
Ms Stott worked for Ralli Ltd and was dismissed for poor performance during her probationary period. Following her dismissal, Ms Stott raised a grievance which referred to her disabilities (mental health and dyslexia) and stated that these had contributed to errors contained in her work. The grievance was rejected, as was a grievance appeal.
Ms Stott brought a claim alleging that her dismissal was discriminatory but importantly did not complain about the grievance and appeal outcomes.
The Employment Tribunal held that the employer did not know and could not reasonably have been expected to know about the disability when dismissing Ms Stott and therefore her claims were dismissed. The employer only became aware of Ms Stott’s disabilities when they were raised in the grievance. As the grievance and appeal process were not in dispute, the tribunal only considered whether the dismissal itself was discriminatory.
Ms Stott appealed the decision and this was dismissed by the Employment Appeal Tribunal on the basis that the case revolved purely around the Claimant’s dismissal and not what occurred afterwards. The grievance and appeal were not a part of Ms Stott’s case and therefore her employer’s knowledge or constructive knowledge of her disabilities acquired after the case could not assist her.
Nick Benton from Howes Percival comments:
"The case is a useful reminder that employers must have knowledge of an employee’s disability to be held liable for disability discrimination. That knowledge can be express or constructive depending on the circumstances. Employers should therefore consider each case carefully. Although not on the facts of this case, where an employee confirms their disability as part of the appeal against dismissal, it’s likely that an employer will have knowledge of disability for the purposes of that dismissal if a claim is subsequently brought."
For further information on this subject, please contact a member of the team here.