The case of Paterson v the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis provides an interesting example of what can constitute ‘day-to-day activities’ for the purposes of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
In this case the employee was a Chief Inspector in the Metropolitan Police Force, who had recently discovered that he was dyslexic and had been dyslexic throughout his career in the police. In order to reach his rank of Chief Inspector Mr Paterson had had to complete a range of exams and managerial functions and had been recognised for having a good writing style. Mr Paterson was now seeking promotion to Superintendent, a process that required him to complete a promotion assessment. Mr Paterson brought a claim for disability discrimination on the grounds that his employers had failed to make reasonable adjustments to the promotion process in light of his dyslexia.
The Employment Tribunal found against Mr Paterson on the grounds that he was able to write reports and carry out financial and budgetary duties, his dyslexia did not have a substantial adverse impact on his normal day-to-day activities. This was despite the fact that the tribunal accepted that Mr Paterson's dyslexia meant that he should be afforded 25% more time to complete each stage of the selection process.
The EAT disagreed with the tribunal's decision and granted Mr Paterson's appeal. The EAT held that the tribunal had been wrong to compare what Mr Paterson was able to do with those activities capable of being performed by an average person and instead should have considered what he was able to do against what he could do, had he not been dyslexic. The EAT agreed with Mr Paterson's argument that high pressure exams were a usual, if irregular, everyday activity and that since it was not in dispute that he was disadvantaged to the extent of requiring an 25% extra time to complete the assessment, it inevitably followed that that there was a substantial adverse effect on his normal day-to day activities.
This case highlights that assessments and examinations, which are a common feature of many promotion procedures, are normal day-to-day activities and it addresses the issues that arise in relation to senior employees who have been able to manage their disabilities for most of their careers and are only now encountering problems.