Beart v Prison Service

Disability discrimination
Beart v Prison Service, Court of Appeal, 26 April 2005

Beart stopped work because she was suffering from depression in September 1997, and never returned. A medical report indicated that she would consider a post in another prison, but the employer brought disciplinary charges against her on the basis that she had been working in a shop while receiving sick pay.

Beart was dismissed and complained to an employment tribunal of disability discrimination and unfair dismissal. She was awarded damages (a six-figure sum) for loss of earnings from the time she should have been relocated, and continuing into the future.

The Prison Service appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal and then to the Court of Appeal, arguing that the fact of dismissal, albeit an unfair one, ended its liability for the disability discrimination. It argued that further losses had to be assessed under the unfair dismissal regime where a statutory cap applied. The Court of Appeal dismissed this argument, commenting that an employer cannot rely on its own act of unfair dismissal to limit the compensation otherwise payable for disability discrimination.

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