A Court of Appeal decision has highlighted the need for employers to tread carefully when dealing with the behaviour of an employee which arises from a disability. In this case the employee had bipolar defective disorder and had previously been disciplined for an outburst at work. Following various instances of sick leave he was dismissed on the grounds of ill health, and subsequently brought claims for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination.

The tribunal held that the employer had directly discriminated based on a stereotypical view of mental illness, as someone with a physical illness would not have been treated in the same way. The Court of Appeal upheld this decision as well as the compensation award of £30,687.

This case demonstrates that an employer’s defence that anyone behaving in that way would have been subjected to the same treatment may not succeed against claims for disability discrimination, where the behaviour in question is a result of the disability.

Aylott v Stockton-On-Tees Borough Council