What is a disability?

Abadeh,
a telephone operator, suffered permanent hearing loss and tinnitus in his left
ear after receiving a sudden, high-pitched noise through his headset. He also
developed post traumatic stress disorder. Abadeh brought a disability
discrimination claim and the tribunal had to establish whether Abadeh was
"disabled" within the meaning of the Disability Discrimination Act.

The
tribunal considered four medical reports, two for each of the parties. BT’s
reports were prepared by M. The tribunal held that although Abadeh had an
impairment which adversely affected his ability to carry out normal day-to-day
activities the effects of the impairment were not substantial. Accordingly,
Abadeh was not disabled.

Abadeh
appealed. The EAT found that the tribunal had been over-influenced by M’s
opinion and the matter was remitted to a fresh tribunal. Interestingly, the EAT
also held that the effects of medical treatment (Abadeh’s ongoing
psychotherapy) should be taken into account if the medical evidence showed that
continuing treatment brought a permanent improvement.

Abadeh
v British Telecommunications, IDS Brief 675, EAT

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