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JPP Law Blog

Dyslexic employee wins race and disability discrimination claim

A dyslexic employee has won a disability discrimination claim because her employer failed to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate her condition. Her race discrimination claim which was originally dismissed by the employment tribunal due to lack of evidence is to be reconsidered because they tribunal need 'to be alive to the possibility of unconscious discrimination as well as overt discrimination.'

The employee was from Ghana. She suffered from dyspraxia and dyslexia, which meant it took her longer than others to complete her work. She was granted compressed hours at her request, working four days per week instead of five. The employer also agreed to provide her with specialist equipment.

The employee asserted that the employer should have made the reasonable adjustment of reducing her workload. She also said that the employer had downgraded her performance review because of her race. She relied on an internal document which stated that part-time, disabled or minority staff were statistically less likely to receive a performance bonus than other staff.

The employment tribunal found that the employer had imposed a 'provision, criterion or practice' of requiring the employee to carry out the same volume of work as her colleagues, resulting in her having to work extra hours to finish her work.

It concluded that reducing workload would have amounted to a reasonable adjustment and the employer had breached its duties under the Equality Act 2010. However, it rejected the race discrimination claim, finding that the employee had not provided sufficient proof.

The employer appealed against the disability discrimination decision while the employee appealed against the dismissal of her race discrimination claim.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) found in her favour. It held that it was clear that the steps taken by the employer had not removed the disadvantage to which she was put during the relevant period.

Turning to the race discrimination claim, the EAT said tribunals had to be alive to the possibility of unconscious discrimination as well as overt discrimination.

The statistical evidence relied on by the employee could tend to show a discernible pattern of treatment of the employee's racial group from which a tribunal might infer unlawful discrimination.

In those circumstances, it was not open to the tribunal, taking proper account of the evidence before it, to reject the race complaint without considering the issues further. The race claim was therefore remitted to the same tribunal for reconsideration.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article. To find out more about JPP's employment law services please visit employment law.

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