Conry v Worcestershire Hospital Acute NHS Trust is a reminder that it will normally be sensible to discuss reasonable adjustments with an employee in advance. An employer's failure to do so in this case resulted in constructive dismissal and disability related harassment claims.
Mrs Conry had mobility difficulties and was disabled for the purposes of the Equality Act. Access to work assessments in October 2014 identified a number of reasonable adjustments for her, including a new desk in a different location, and a properly adjustable chair. No action to implement the recommendations was taken until April 2015, when the office was rearranged. This was not discussed with the employee in advance; she was simply advised by email after the reorganisation had taken place. The changes did not reflect the adjustments that needed to be made. In particular, the location of her new desk was unsuitable. She was "hugely disappointed" and distressed by this and subsequently resigned, claiming constructive dismissal and disability related harassment.
Although her claims were rejected by the tribunal, her appeal to the EAT was successful. The mismanagement of the office reorganisation had resulted in a worse office environment for the employee as a disabled person. On the tribunal's own findings she was left without a fit and proper working environment. In combination with other events there was ample evidence to find that the employer was in breach of the implied duty of trust and confidence. The tribunal had simply failed to engage with that argument.
In addition, the tribunal had failed to appreciate that the office reorganisation could have had the effect of creating a hostile environment for the employee as a disabled person, given the trip hazards and other obstacles that it created. The tribunal had focused on the fact that this was not the intention of the reorganisation, but that was beside the point. The case was remitted to the tribunal.