Failure to make reasonable adjustments during the dismissal process

News  |   5 May 2022

Does an employer’s failure to make a reasonable adjustment for a disabled employee during a dismissal process render the dismissal unfair?

In Knightly v Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Trust, the EAT has held that the answer is no.

The EAT noted that there are different legal tests applicable when considering claims for unfair dismissal, a failure to make reasonable adjustment and discrimination arising from disability (as alleged in this case) and that the fact that an employer might fail on one of the claims does not mean that it will fail the others. The legal principles applicable to each claim should be applied to the facts separately.

In this case, the Claimant was dismissed following a capability procedure. She was denied an extension of time to appeal against the dismissal, which the tribunal held was a failure to make a reasonable adjustment, but the dismissal was fair overall under the Employment Rights Act 1996.

The Claimant appealed on several grounds including that the dismissal ought to have been held to be unfair given the failure to make a reasonable adjustment, and the lack of an effective appeal however the EAT, applying the principles set out above, held that the conclusion on the reasonable adjustment claim did not depend on, or reflect the merits of the case for the dismissal or the dismissal itself.

If you, or your business, require any advice on matters similar to those referred to above, please do not hesitate to contact our Employment Team on 020 8290 0440.

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