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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) did not amount to a disability

A pupil suffering from ADHD claimed that her removal from the school was unlawful because she suffered from a disability. Although not an employment related claim, it highlights the importance in such cases of proving a causal nexus between the disability and the act in question.

The Claimant was a boarding school pupil who had ADHD. In 2013, she was caught having sexual intercourse with a male student in the school, which resulted in her exclusion and her school principal advising her mother to withdraw her to avoid an expulsion on her record. Her mother appealed against the decision stating that her daughter was disabled for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 because of her ADHD and its negative effect on her decision-making, and as such, she had been discriminated against.

The Additional Support Needs Tribunal for Scotland had rejected the claim as it was not satisfied that the pupil was disabled for the purposes of the Act. The Court of Session agreed refusing the appeal as:

  • The pupil was not disabled under the Act as her mental impairment did not have a substantial and long term adverse effect on her ability to carry out day to day activities was a view that it was entitled to take based on the evidence of her teachers. As such, there could be no finding of discrimination.

  • There did not appear to be a causal link between the ADHD and the sexual act resulting in her expulsion, based on the element of planning involved (rather than it being an impulsive act as a result of the ADHD) and evidence that she had had previous sexual relationships, which her mother did not appear to attribute to her ADHD.

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