Disability ruling paves way for constructive dismissal claims

Employers
refusing to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees are risking
thousands of claims for constructive dismissal, according to a landmark ruling
yesterday in the Court of Appeal.

A
Nottingham teacher who faced discrimination at work from her employer
Nottinghamshire County Council because of sight loss has had her case upheld on
appeal.

The
Court of Appeal found that Gaynor Meikle, a teacher with more than 30 years’
experience, was constructively dismissed, and should have received full pay,
not sick pay, when she lost her sight.

Her
case was supported by the Disability Rights Commission, and it is the first
time the Court of Appeal has ruled on the points of constructive dismissal and
sick pay in relation to disability discrimination.

The
case sets the precedent that constructive dismissal is covered by the
Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). Constructive dismissal arises when the
employer is directly responsible for behaving in a way that entitles an
employee to resign, as Meikle did.

Bert
Massie, chairman of the Disability Rights Commission, said: "This is a
very important judgment and strengthens the rights of disabled people to stay
in work.

"The
biggest problem disabled people face both in getting in and moving on in work,
is the failure of employers to make crucial adjustments. This ruling will mean
that more disabled employees will keep their jobs and reduce the gap between
disabled and non-disabled people in work."

The
case will return to the Employment Tribunal, where a settlement will be
decided.

By Quentin Reade

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