In Truman -v- Bibby Distribution Ltd 2015 the Employment Tribunal found that Mr Truman had been directly discriminated against because of his daughter’s disability (so-called “associative discrimination” in that the claim is based not on the victim’s protected characteristic but on the characteristic of someone else).
Mr Truman was employed by Bibby as an Operations Manager. Throughout his employment he consistently received good performance reviews. He often worked longer hours than contracted and his one customer never complained about him.
Mr Truman’s daughter had cystic fibrosis. Throughout his employment, he had taken very little time off work to care for her because his wife was the primary carer. However, about a month before he was dismissed, Mr Truman had a conversation with his line manager in which he indicated that he would have to do his fair share of the caring in the future as his wife was starting her own business.
On 13 October 2014, one day before the one year anniversary of the commencement of his employment, Mr Truman was told that he was being dismissed due to poor performance and because “his heart wasn’t in the business” and “it was not working”.
Mr Truman brought a claim for associative disability discrimination on the grounds that he was dismissed because his daughter was disabled and he would require more time off work to care for her. The claim was successful. The Tribunal was suspicious of the circumstances and timing of his dismissal. There had been no performance improvement process, a Regional Manager had been asked by Mr Truman’s line manager to “gather as much dirt on the claimant as he could” and he was informed that he was going to be dismissed on the day before he would have been entitled to benefit from 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave.