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Retracting job offer because of epilepsy was not discriminatory

Posted by TonyBrownEmploymentSolicitor on December 7, 2015

An ET decided that an employer did not discriminate on grounds of disability and met its duty to make reasonable adjustments when it withdrew a conditional job offer over safety concerns about a job applicant's epilepsy.

Disability discrimination law requires employers to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the needs of disabled applicants or employees. This duty arises when one of the employer’s workplace practices or a physical feature of the workplace put a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with individuals who are not disabled.
In the next case, the Claimant, who stated on his CV that he suffered from epilepsy, applied for a job working in a railway station. He was offered the job subject to passing a medical.
The conclusion in the medical report was that, although he was fit to work, the Claimant should not work alone, or be allowed to work trackside.


The employer’s HR department considered the nature of the job and the potential adjustments that could be made and decided that cost and practical difficulties made it impossible to proceed with the offer of employment to the Claimant when 90% of the job involved lone or trackside working.


The HR department withdrew the job offer made to the Claimant, who brought claims for disability arising from discrimination and failure to make reasonable adjustments.
Dismissing his claims, the tribunal concluded that the adjustments suggested by the Claimant were either prohibitively expensive or would not reduce the safety risk. The Claimant’s suggestions included employing a companion for him and deploying him in a large station where assistance would be more readily available during a seizure


Comment


Although employers have an active duty to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate disabled people, as this case shows, there are limits to the adjustments they are expected to make. Many adjustments required by disabled applicants are reasonably cheap and will be effective but it will usually be reasonable to refuse to make an adjustment the cost of which is prohibitive or which would be ineffective in removing danger to the individual or others.

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