JP Morgan Europe Limited v Chweidan 2010 UKEAT0286/09

Mr Chweidan was an executive director in structured credit and sales. His bonus for 2006 was $800,000. He injured his back severely in a skiing accident in March 2007 but managed to work. In September 2007 his manager proposed a bonus of $400,000 which was later increased to $450,000 which did not please Mr Chweidan. By January 2008 a report from occupational health accepted that he was disabled within the meaning of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

In February 2008 he was considered for redundancy and placed on garden leave. In March 2008 he issued a grievance in relation to his bonus and his selection for redundancy on the grounds that JP Morgan’s conduct amounted to age and disability discrimination. He was given notice of dismissal in April 2008 and his employment terminated in July 2008. His grievance was rejected.

The tribunal found that he had not suffered disability related discrimination under s.3A(1) of the Act by the fact that his reduced working hours prevented him from widening his client base, as a result of which he was paid a lower bonus than appropriate and that he had been unfairly dismissed. However he had a claim for direct discrimination under s.3A(5) of the Act. The EAT overturned this on JP Morgan’s appeal, holding that it was difficult to see how a claim of direct discrimination could succeed where a claim of disability-related discrimination failed. The Appeal Tribunal remitted the issue of whether the Claimant had suffered direct discrimination in relation to his bonus and unfair dismissal or otherwise.

Key point: If the tribunal was muddled in applying S3A(1) and 3A(5) what chance have employers of making the right decision? Maybe in time the Equality Act 2010 will make life easier.