Charlesworth v. Dransfield Engineering Services Ltd

Mr Charlesworth, a branch manager with Dransfield Engineering, developed renal cancer during the course of his employment, which necessitated an absence of several months. During his absence, the company underwent a restructuring exercise in a bid to improve its financial performance which ultimately led to Mr Charlesworth being made redundant. He brought a claim against Dransfield on the grounds of direct disability discrimination, unfair dismissal and discrimination arising from disability. The ET rejected his claim on the basis that his absence demonstrated to his employers that they could manage without him as temporary cover was not required while he was away. Therefore although his absence was disability-related, his dismissal was down to other factors. Mr Charlesworth appealed the decision but the EAT agreed with the ET. This is an unusual departure from many recent decisions regarding disability-related claims but the EAT was at pains to emphasise that each case would turn on its own facts and that employers should continue to act judiciously when implementing redundancies.