Occupational health has come under the spotlight in two employment tribunals, with a chef’s serious nut allergy and a worker’s severe eczema both being classed as a disability under the Equality Act 2010, therefore allowing their discrimination cases to proceed.
In the case of Wheeldon v Marstons plc ET/1313364/2012, the chef suffered a severe allergic re-action when he came into contact with nuts while at work in 2011.
He did not return to work and brought a number of disability claims, arguing his employer failed to offer alternative work.
In the second case, Glass v Promotion Line Ltd ET/3203338/2012, the worker, who suffers from severe eczema, brought a disability discrimination claim after she was dismissed by her employer.
Under the Equality Act, to be disabled, an individual has to have an impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
In Glass, the tribunal heard that it took the worker more than an hour to get ready in the morning because she had to apply cream and wait for it to be absorbed, meaning that it took her considerably longer to get ready for work than someone who did not need to do so.
This, the tribunal argued, amounted to a substantial adverse effect on her ability to carry out day-to-day activities. It therefore classes her as having a disability.