People with physical or mental conditions which vary in severity over time should still be termed ‘disabled’, the House of Lords has ruled today.
The case was brought by Elizabeth Boyle, who alleged she had been discriminated against by her former employer of 32 years, SCA Packaging.
Boyle, who had developed vocal nodules which threaten speech, protested when her firm removed partitions near her desk causing her to speak more loudly.
The company argued Boyle was not disabled as her condition no longer had an adverse effect on her life.
Susie Uppal, director of legal enforcement at the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, which intervened in the case, said: “Many people have chronic medical conditions, such as epilepsy, rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes. Often, they do not define themselves as disabled as they can manage the symptoms, or their condition may be in remission.
“However, it is important that these people are recognised as being disabled under the law so they get the protection they need to prevent their conditions recurring and their quality of life suffering as a result.”
The case will now return to the Northern Ireland Employment Tribunal to consider if Boyle had been subjected to unlawful discrimination based on her disability.