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Occupational Health’s knowledge of a disability cannot be imputed to the employer’s decision maker.

March 21, 2016

The EAT has held that knowledge cannot be implied, even where the fact of disability is already known within the organisation.

 

 

The EAT opined that the focus of an employment tribunal's enquiry ought properly to be on the thought-processes and motivation of the decision-maker. The test is: did the decision-maker know of the disability and were they influenced by it?

This decision conflicts with the EHRC Statutory Code of Practice on Employment at paras.5.17 to 5.19 which provide that employers will usually not be able to use the knowledge defence to a disability discrimination claim if an employer's agent or employee (such as Occupational Health) has knowledge. The Guidance is clear that knowledge is not imputed if it is gained by a person providing independent services to a worker, such as counselling.

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