In the Recent case of Mutombo-Mpania v Angard Staffing Solutions Ltd the EAT has had to consider in detail,

  • Whether an employee can prove disability without evidence on the impact of his impairment on normal day to day activities? And if so
  • Does an employer have constructive knowledge of disability if the employee has denied having one?

The Claimant worked for an organisation that provided staff to the Royal Mail Group. On joining he did not indicate disability on his application form and failed to disclose a disability on a health form. The employee had previously worked night shifts but when asked to work regular night shifts the employee sought to rely on a diagnosis of Essential Hypertension as a disability which required reasonable adjustments.

When this was not considered the Claimant pleaded disability discrimination. It was agreed that the employee was receiving treatment but still suffered symptoms including headaches, fatigue, breathing difficulties and lack of confidence. At the hearing the employee provided no evidence to the tribunal of how his symptoms actually impaired his ability to carry out normal day to day activities.

The court held that when pleading disability discrimination, the burden of proof is on the Claimant to demonstrate substantial adverse effect. He failed to do so and did not meet the section 6 Equality Act 2010 definition.

In any event the employer did not have any knowledge of the condition. Even if the employer was under a duty to ask questions, a vague reference to a "health condition" did not infer constructive knowledge. The employee had previously worked night shifts and had denied having a disability.

It must be remembered that this case was dependant on its facts. However, this is a useful case for Employers who may face claims of a disability from an employee as consideration must be given not only to the nature of the condition but the effect on the activities concerned. Also, whilst an employer must not be wilfully blind to a medical condition where a condition has bene denied there must be sufficient reason for an employer to question this denial.

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