Dismissal over erratic behaviour was disability discrimination
An employment tribunal has held that it was discrimination arising from disability for an employee with mental health problems to be dismissed without a proper examination of the reasons for his erratic behaviour.
Dismissal for behaviour arising from disability was discrimination
In Nally v Freshfield Care Ltd, the employment tribunal held that the employer discriminated against an employee when it dismissed him because of behaviour arising from his disability.
Employee’s erratic behaviour: tribunal’s view in this case
“The claimant was dismissed for two incidents where he appeared to lose his temper, be rude or difficult…the claimant had behaved uncharacteristically…
“The respondent should have known from their own knowledge someone suffering from PTSD or anxiety could behave in this way…he was indicating a connection between his behaviour and his condition…
“At the date of making the decision to dismiss it was plain that the respondent needed further medical evidence.”
About 18 months into his employment, care worker Mr Nally told a resident with dementia to “shut up”.
He told the deputy manager that he had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), had been experiencing anxiety issues and was receiving counselling.
The deputy manager informed him that he would be monitored for two weeks and that a medical report could be obtained. The claimant provided his doctor’s details, but the employer did not obtain a medical report.
Two weeks later, the claimant had an argument with another worker. He was subsequently dismissed.
Mr Nally brought, among others, a claim for discrimination arising from disability under the Equality Act 2010.
While his other disability claims were rejected, his claim for discrimination arising from disability was upheld.
The employment tribunal determined that the employer had been aware that some of his behaviour could have been the result of his condition.
The tribunal went on to decide that Mr Nally was treated unfavourably because of his behaviour, which arose out of his disability. It concluded that the employer could not objectively justify the dismissal.
According to the tribunal, the decision to dismiss could have been delayed and alternative measures to dismissal taken. The employer could have issued a suspension or demotion until a medical report had been obtained and it could make an informed decision.