The claimant in Osei-Adjei v RM Education Ltd, who suffered from dyslexia, started work in January 2010. He was placed on a performance improvement plan (PIP) in May 2010 but was signed off with stress the next month and did not return. He resigned in February 2011 and claimed unfair constructive dismissal and disability discrimination in the form of a failure to make reasonable adjustments. The latter claim was successful and he was awarded £4,000 for injury to feelings and £10,000 for psychiatric injury. The EAT case dealt with appeals on the compensation.
The claimant argued that he should be entitled to compensation for loss of earnings and vulnerability on the labour market. The EAT agreed with the Tribunal that he had not been dismissed and his resignation broke the chain of causation so far as any future loss of earnings was concerned. The EAT gave a number of reasons for its decision:
- The claimant's initial position when he started employment was that his dyslexia did not require any adjustments to be made to his working conditions.
- Although the claimant was unfit to work for a period after he left in May 2010, at the time of the termination of his employment in February 2011 he was fit to return to work, his job was open to him and all reasonable adjustments had been or would be made.
- Despite the possibility of a vulnerability to stress, the claimant had chosen to take on a stressful job after his resignation and suffered a relapse. The Tribunal found that there had been no constructive dismissal but that the Claimant had resigned. The only wrongful act on the part of the employer was the failure to make the specific reasonable adjustment and it was not alleged that this was the cause of his resignation.
- Although an employer cannot rely on an unfair dismissal to minimise a claimant's compensation, that principle did not apply in cases where the termination was the claimant's voluntary decision.
The EAT also decided that the £10,000 awarded for psychological injury was too high. The claimant's diagnosis was a "mild disorder" and therefore fell within the category of "minor" rather than "moderate" damage under the official guidelines for the assessment of damages in personal injury cases. But the EAT accepted that those minor injuries did trigger more significant, even "moderate", damage to his psychological health and said it would have awarded £5,000. But it was also clear that there were additional causes for his symptoms, including a number of unfounded concerns about the employer, his colleagues and others. In those circumstances, the EAT decided that the Claimant should receive £2,000 (40 per cent of £5,000).