Specific treatment must be justified in discrimination arising from disability says the EAT
Mr Buchanan was a police officer on long term sick leave
Mr Buchanan was a police officer on long term sick leave following a motor bike accident, whilst on duty, which left him suffering with PTSD. Whilst Mr Buchanan was on sick leave, the police force took steps under their Unsatisfactory Performance Procedure. He was issued with improvement notices which provided return to work dates.
Due to his medical condition, he was unable to comply with these notices, as the police force was well aware.
Mr Buchanan brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal for discrimination arising from disability. Under s.15 discrimination arising from disability occurs when an employer treats an employee unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of the employee’s disability and the employer cannot show that the treatment is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate end.
The Employment Tribunal found that if the Unsatisfactory Performance Procedure was justified, there was no need for specific actions taken under the procedure to be justified. Mr Buchanan appealed this decision and started that the tribunal had erred on a point of law. The Employment Appeal Tribunal held that it was the decisions and actions which constituted the “treatment” for the purposes of section 15 of the Equality Act 2010. Thus it was the application of the procedure and not the procedure itself that needed to be objectively justified.