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A v London Borough of Hounslow

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Last updated 2001.

Employment Appeal Tribunal, 11.7.01 (1155/98). Full judgment: bailii.org.

The applicant was offered a job as a physics/information technology technician in a school, subject to a medical report, However, he was found to have a history of schizophrenia and was asked to leave. The school argued that its actions were justified for safety reasons.

The employment tribunal agreed that there was justification under the DDA, and dismissed the applicant’s claim.

The appellant argued before the EAT that the employment tribunal should have applied a higher threshold of justification. However, this argument encountered the problem that the threshold is a low one as described in the Kenrick case.

The appellant argued that, notwithstanding the Kenrick case, the European Convention of Human Rights required a higher threshold of justification to be applied. He founded the claim on Article 8 (the right to respect for private and family life) and Article 1 of the First Protocol (the right to peaceful enjoyment of one’s possessions) taken together with Article 14 (the right not to be discriminated against in the enjoyment of one’s Convention rights).

The EAT rejected the argument. Article 8 (respect for private life) and Article 1 of the First Protocol (possessions) did not cover the right to be employed, or not to have a contract of employment terminated. Even if they did cover that right, there would not be a breach of a Convention right conferred by Article 8 or Article 1 of the First Protocol because the DDA fell within the qualifications to those Articles by taking a balanced approach to making it unlawful to discriminate against disabled persons.

The EAT accepted that disability is a relevant category for the purposes of Article 14. However, that helps only if the case falls within the ambit of another Convention right such as Article 8 or Article 1 of the First Protocol.

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