The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in Patel v Lloyds Pharmacy Ltd UKEAT/0481/12 has upheld the decision of an Employment Tribunal (ET) to strike out a direct disability discrimination claim because there was no evidence that the Claimant's interviewer had any knowledge of his disability.
Mr Patel suffered from bipolar disorder. He interviewed for a position at Lloyds Pharmacy and brought a disability discrimination claim against the company on the basis that he felt he had been rejected for that position due to his disability. Mr Patel argued that his interviewers had known about his disability because (a) the job application had included an equal opportunities questionnaire in which Mr Patel had detailed his disability and (b) Mr Patel had interviewed for a position with Lloyds Pharmacy in 2008 and told his then interviewer about his bipolar disorder. However, the completed equal opportunities questionnaire was deliberately not given to Mr Patel's new interviewers and his previous interviewer was not involved in the recruitment process. The ET struck out Mr Patel's claim on the ground that it had no reasonable prospect of success.
On appeal, the EAT upheld the ET's decision. Discrimination claims are only struck out in the most exceptional of cases but even if Mr Patel's case was put at its strongest, it was not possible to infer that his new interviewers had any knowledge of his disability. Simply because ‘something may turn up' in cross examination will not be enough to allow a claim to continue. This case is reassuring to employers as it shows the Tribunal will use its power to strike out where a claim is clearly misconceived.