Employment Law Speed Read – 24/09/18
24th September, 2018
In Mutombo-Mpania v Angard Staffing Solutions Ltd, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that an individual cannot prove that they are disabled without providing evidence about the impact of their impairment on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Additionally, the employer was found not to have constructive knowledge of Mr Mutombo-Mpania's disability as he had failed to disclose his impairment.
Mr Mutombo-Mpania was employed by an organisation that provides casual staff members to the Royal Mail Group. Mr Mutombo-Mpania suffers from essential hypertension; symptoms including headaches, fatigue and breathing difficulties. During the recruitment process, Mr Mutombo-Mpania stated that he did not have a disability. Mr Mutombo-Mpania also omitted information relating to his impairment on an occupational health form.
In order to meet the needs of the business, employees were required to vary their shift patterns and work throughout the night. Mr Mutombo-Mpania sought to rely on his impairment to avoid working night shifts. Due to a series of related absences; Mr Mutombo-Mpania was dismissed.
Mr Mutombo-Mpania brought a claim to the Employment Tribunal (ET) citing numerous complaints, including disability discrimination.
The ET found in favour of the employer and held that Mr Mutombo-Mpania was not disabled within the meaning of Section 6(2) of the Equality Act 2010 (EA 2010). Mr Mutombo-Mpania had failed to provide any evidence which demonstrated the impact his impairment had on his ability to carry out day-to-day activities.
Further, the ET held that even if Mr Mutombo-Mpania had been able to prove that he was disabled, the employer did not know or could not have reasonably been expected to know that he had a disability. Although Mr Mutombo-Mpania’s vague reference to a ‘health condition’ should have encouraged the employer to make enquiries into Mr Mutombo-Mpania’s health. It was insufficient to infer constructive knowledge on behalf of the employer.
Mr Mutombo-Mpania appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).
Employment Appeal Tribunal
The EAT affirmed the ET’s decision and dismissed Mr Mutombo-Mpania’s appeal. The EAT held that individuals must provide evidence of the long-term adverse impacts of their impairment on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. This includes referring to particular activities that the individual cannot undertake. Merely referring to symptoms of the impairment is not sufficient.
Further, the EAT held that the ET was correct to find that the employer did not know and could not reasonably have been expected to know that Mr Mutombo-Mpania was disabled. The EAT attached significance to the fact that Mr Mutombo-Mpania denied having a disability. The EAT stated that although the employer was aware that Mr Mutombo-Mpania had a health condition, there is a distinction between a health condition and a disability.
This case highlights the importance the Tribunal will place on individuals providing evidence that demonstrates the impact their impairment has on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.
The case also demonstrates that the Tribunal will attach significance to whether or not the individual has disclosed their disability.
If you have any questions on the above and how it will affect you, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of our employment team.
Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.
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