In Baldeh v Churches Housing Association, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (‘EAT’) held that a tribunal had failed to consider whether the employer had known of a Claimant’s disability when it rejected her appeal.
Mrs Baldeh was dismissed at the end of a six-month probationary period due to concerns about her behaviour and performance. She appealed and her appeal was turned down. She suffered from depression and was disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010. She claimed disability discrimination.
The tribunal rejected her claim determining that the employer did not know she was disabled at the time of her dismissal and that, in any event, her dismissal was justified as being a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
The EAT held that there were a number of errors in the tribunal’s reasoning. Although the employer did not know about the disability at the time of the dismissal, it may have had actual or constructive knowledge of it before the rejection of her appeal. Mrs Baldeh mentioned her mental health at the appeal hearing and the rejection of her appeal formed part of the unfavourable treatment of which she was complaining. There was also some evidence that her depression caused her behaviour and under-performance. The tribunal also did not properly address whether dismissal was a proportionate response, balancing the prejudice of Mrs Baldeh losing her job against the need to achieve the legitimate aim.