Taylor v. Ladbrokes Betting and Gaming Ltd UKEAT/0353/15 concerned whether type 2 diabetes qualifies as a disability under the Equality Act 2010.
Mr Taylor suffers from type 2 diabetes. Ladbrokes dismissed him and he brought claims of unfair dismissal and disability discrimination. Mr Taylor claimed that he was disabled for nearly a year before his dismissal due to his diabetes.
At a preliminary hearing, an employment judge considered written medical evidence from Dr Hurel. He stated that, even without taking his prescribed medication, Mr Taylor's diabetes did not have an adverse impact on his ability to carry out day-to-day activities during 2012 and 2013. This was the period in question regarding the unfair dismissal claim. Dr Hurel further stated that Mr Taylor could manage his diabetes through lifestyle, diet and exercise, though it appeared that he had not taken these steps.
The employment judge interpreted Dr Hurel's written evidence to mean that Mr Taylor controlled his diabetes by medication which he was taking to prevent his condition "from progressing to the serious and debilitating condition of type 1 diabetes". The employment judge considered there was only a small possibility that Mr Taylor's condition would progress. The judge decided that his type 2 diabetes did not amount to a physical impairment and therefore Mr Taylor was not disabled under the Equality Act 2010. Mr Taylor appealed.
The EAT held the tribunal had got the wrong idea about the proper test for disability under the Equality Act 2010. It had analysed Mr Taylor's condition over a particular past period (2012 and 2013) rather than looking to the progression of Mr Taylor's condition and his future prognosis. The EAT stated that, instead, the question the tribunal should have asked was whether the condition was likely to result in an impairment, not whether it had caused an impairment.
The EAT further found that Dr Hurel's medical evidence was not clear in drawing out whether Mr Taylor's diabetes was progressive in nature, and what the likely progression (if any) would be. Therefore, the EAT remitted the case back to the tribunal. The tribunal was to reconsider the medical evidence in light of the progressive nature of the condition and the extent to which it was possible Mr Taylor's type 2 diabetes would significantly worsen in the future.
This case reinforces the position that the most certain way to show protection against disability discrimination will be to get medical evidence which determines the likely impact of the condition. This case also highlights how important it is to ask medical experts the right questions so a tribunal can accurately consider the progressive nature and future impact of a medical condition. Based on current case law, we cannot assume that employees with type 2 diabetes will be protected from disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. However, given the increasing number of people in the UK diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, employers should use this case as a reminder to ensure that they are compliant with disability discrimination law. It is important to get accurate medical evidence when dealing with any employees who may suffer with a progressive condition, whether or not that may be diabetes.