DRC lives up to disability discrimination law vow

The Disability Rights Commission is living up to its promise to give teeth to the Disability Discrimination Act by backing its first case – in the Court of Appeal.

The commission has supported a case against the London Borough of Lambeth of a senior accountant who suffered from depression.

The case was due to be heard at the Court of Appeal last week as Personnel Today went to press. It is only the third case taken under the Disability Discrimination Act which has gone to the Appeal Court.

Kapadia v London Borough of Lambeth, was last heard at an Employment Appeal Tribunal in May 1999. The EAT ruled stress at work could be a disability and that the original tribunal ignored medical evidence. Lambeth appealed against that decision.

Kapadia claimed Lambeth discriminated against him because of his disability and he was unfairly dismissed from his job. He worked in the finance department from 1990 to 1997.

In 1997 he was asked to take on additional work which led to him suffering depression. He received treatment and in April 1996 was appointed to a new post. But he claims he was not given the staff or training needed to carry out the work and was given additional duties he could not cope with.

Kapadia’s medical condition became worse and he took sick leave. In July 1997 he was retired on medical grounds.

Chairman of the DRC, Bert Massie, said, “Our first court case shows the commission’s determination to support disabled people, regardless of their impairment, at any stage in the legal process.

“It is also vital that we clarify the EAT’s powers as an increasing number of disability discrimination cases reach this stage.”

A spokesman for the London Borough of Lambeth said the council would not be commenting on the case until the Court of Appeal had made its decision.

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