Hill v Lloyds Bank: Discrimination and Mental Health

In an interesting turn of events, we write with regards to a case update on the case of Mrs S Hill v Lloyds Bank Plc. The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) recently upheld an Employment Tribunal’s (ET) former decision and delivered their newfound verdict on 2 July 2020.

The Claimant within the context of this case was deemed as disabled under the Equality Act 2010, as she suffered from reactive depression, which she said was a direct result of bullying and harassment at work from two colleagues. On the Claimant’s return to work following a period of sick leave she sought reassurance from her employer on the condition that they would not require her to work with the two colleagues concerned. Furthermore, if at a later stage there was no alternative to these working arrangements, the Claimant wanted further reassurance that she would be offered a severance package equivalent to that provided on redundancy.

In response to this, the Respondent refused to agree to the proposed condition or any condition of the proposed effect. Following this, the EAT held that the ET had been entitled to find a claim of disability discrimination based on a failure to make reasonable adjustments on the following grounds:

(a) that the Respondent had a “practice” of not agreeing to conditions as proposed, within circumstances like these;

(b) that this practice put the Claimant at a substantial disadvantage in comparison to others who did not suffer from a disability, as the Claimant suffered from a level of anxiety and fear regarding the possibility that she would be required to work with the two colleagues in question, in the absence of such a condition being accepted, in comparison to an individual who did not suffer from such disabilities, who would not have been subject to the same treatment had they been bullied and harassed;

(c) that the acceptance of this condition would have alleviated the disadvantage because it would have alleviated her fear;

(d) that it would have been reasonable for Respondent to accept this condition in the form requested by the Claimant.

The EAT also held that there was no reason the ET could not have made a recommendation requiring the proposed condition, as above, on behalf of the Claimant and thus this issue was remitted to be decided by the ET. The ET further anonymised the two colleagues concerned within their judgment, done so without seeking representations, giving any reasons or considering the relevant law within this case and so that issue was also remitted back to be decided by the ET. This, therefore, forms the conclusion that the Claimant’s original requests were reasonable and should have been deemed as a reasonable adjustment within this respect, as there was no reason in principle to prevent the ET from making a recommendation under s.124 (3) Equality Act 2010 requiring Lloyds Bank to give such a written undertaking/condition.

In summary, both the ET and EAT upheld the claim and agreed that;

  • Lloyds Bank had a practice of not offering a sense of understanding within this respect;
  • That the practice adopted by the Claimant put her at a substantial disadvantage compared to an individual who was not disabled;
  • And that the condition proposed by the Claimant would have been a reasonable adjustment for Lloyds Bank to put in place.

We’ve also drafted other blogs with regard to discrimination that may be of use to you, these include discrimination and equal pay, which you can find here. Marital Discrimination, which you can find here and discrimination in relation to race and sexual orientation, which you can read about here.

If you would like to speak to a member of our team about any of our services or if you have any concerns about discrimination in your workplace or mental health discrimination please get in touch at Jodie.hill@thrivelaw.co.uk. 

For employers, we can draft or review equal opportunities’ policies and provide training to staff where necessary.

Written by the Thrive Tribe

 

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