The employee in Williams v The Trustees of Swansea University Pension & Assurance Scheme was disabled under the Equality Act 2010. Although he originally worked full-time, he had reduced his hours as a reasonable adjustment to accommodate his disability. When his application for an early ill-health retirement pension was accepted, his pension was less than it would have been if he had been working full time, because the enhancements applied to his pension reflected his part-time salary at the retirement date. He claimed that this was unfavourable treatment arising in consequence of his disability, given that the reason he worked part time was related to his disability.
Although his claim succeeded in the employment tribunal, it failed in both the EAT and Court of Appeal and has now been dismissed by the Supreme Court. In a notably brief judgment, the Supreme Court found that although a relatively low threshold of disadvantage can amount to "unfavourable treatment" under the Equality Act, the starting point always has to be identifying what "treatment" is complained of. Here the employee was claiming about the award of a pension and there was nothing essentially unfavourable or disadvantageous about that. In fact, were it not for the individual's disabilities, he would have had no entitlement to a pension at all at the relevant point in time. In the circumstances, the treatment complained of was not unfavourable and could not reasonably have been regarded as such.