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Fresh Hope for Epileptic Supermarket Worker in Disability Discrimination Case

PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.

A supermarket worker who was sacked after behaving aggressively towards his line manager has won a fresh opportunity to prove that he was suffering an epileptic fit at the time and that his dismissal amounted to an act of disability discrimination.

The man had been diagnosed with epilepsy and there was no dispute that he was disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010. He had been given two written warnings and suspended following previous angry confrontations with more senior colleagues.

However, the final incident came when he became very red in the face and behaved in a loud and aggressive manner to his manager, advancing towards her and invading her personal space. He was signed off sick due to stress but did not return to work and was ultimately dismissed. His disability discrimination claim was rejected by an Employment Tribunal (ET), which refused to accept his plea that the incident arose in consequence of his epilepsy.

In upholding his challenge to that decision, however, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) found that the ET had failed to give adequate consideration to a letter from a consultant neurologist which was said to support the man’s case. The ET had dealt with that evidence in a cursory fashion, referring to it only once in its decision. In those circumstances, the man’s claim was sent back to a freshly constituted ET for reconsideration of the issue as to whether he suffered an epileptic seizure on the day of the incident and whether that caused or contributed to his behaviour.

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