The claimant was employed by EBR Attridge LLP (formerly Attridge Law) as a legal secretary from January 2001. She is not disabled herself, but is the primary carer of her disabled son. In March 2005, she accepted voluntary redundancy, and subsequently brought an unfair constructive dismissal claim and claims under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA), based on various allegations of harassment and direct discrimination. The EAT upheld the tribunal’s decision that the DDA should be interpreted to cover “associative discrimination”. In other words, the employer was liable for discrimination by reason of, and harassment related to, a third person’s disability.

While this judgment means that an employee can potentially bring a claim alleging discrimination on the ground of another person’s disability, it is limited to allegations of direct discrimination and harassment and does not cover other forms such as the duty to make reasonable adjustments.

EBR Attridge Law LLP and anor v Coleman