Appearing in court
Major update of Appearing in court with a stammer, including witnesses, defendants, litigants and jurors who stammer. It reflects the updated Equal Treatment Bench Book for judges which now (from February 2021) includes stammering.
Two new sections are Case examples of adjustments for stammering in court and Remote hearings.
Video chat backgrounds and email sign-offs
Stamma now offers these as online disclosure tools (stamma.org). Alternatively – provided the employee is happy with it – an employer might supply similar with the employer’s own branding/look.
Links added to this Stamma page at Examples of reasonable adjustments: In the job>Meetings: Video chat backgrounds and at Examples of reasonable adjustments: In the job>Telephone: Emailing beforehand.
Added link to University students who stutter (unistudentswhostutter.com), UK-based organisation and community set up in 2023. It offers speech practice, virtual meet-ups, Facebook support group, and raising awareness. The link is at University and college, including exams>Higher and further education links.
Also added links to Stamma’s Contacting Uni Student Services template (stamma.org). The links are at Resolving issues at university or FE college and University and college, including exams>Higher and further education links.
Is “disclosing” a stammer the right word to use?
Stamma’s Blog: The trouble with ‘disclosure’ suggests that although talking about a stammer is good, “disclosing” may not be the best way to describe doing so. In any event, I don’t think this matters legally. See Is “disclosing” a stammer the right word to use?
McCue v Glasgow City Council
In McCue v Glasgow City Council a man with Down’s Syndrome received social care from his local council, under Scottish legislation. The council had a policy on what disability-related expenditure it would deduct in assessing his ability to pay charges for his care.
The Supreme Court held that the failure of the council to adopt a more generous approach on this – beyond its existing favourable treatment of disabled people – was not “unfavourable” treatment within s.15 EqA. It might be different if the council applied a stricter standard for disability-related expenditure than for other forms of necessary expenditure.
A claim for reasonable adjustments also failed, as there was no policy putting him, as a disabled person, at a disadvantage compared with non-disabled people.
Also updated for this case: Discrimination arising from disability (s.15 Equality Act)>Treatment not as favourable as it might have been.
McAllister v HMRC
Like McCue above, another decision on what is “unfavourable” treatment within s.15 EqA, but this time by the Employment Appeal Tribunal: McAllister v Commissioners for HMRC (nationalarchives.gov.uk),  EAT 87. The employer had reduced a dismissal-related payment to the claimant for reasons connected with his disability, but (although exceptionally some might become entitled to such a payment without having a disability) the claimant was only entitled to it at all because of his disability. So there was no “unfavourable” treatment.
R (Efthimiou) v The City of London
In R (Efthimiou) v The City of London, 2022, swimming in an open air pond on Hampstead Heath helped the claimant’s disability. A new regime of charges for the pond was introduced. Her claims for reasonable adjustments and indirect disability discrimination as regards the charges failed. The disadvantage she suffered did not have the necessary causal connection with her disability or (for indirect discrimination) the PCP, but was due to her limited means.
The court may have been concerned at the very range of claims for discounts in respect of disability and other protected characteristics that the claimant’s argument could have opened up.
R (Adiatu & IWGB) v HM Treasury
Added because it was cited in Efthimiou above, in R (Adiatu & IWGB) v HM Treasury, 2020, the High Court held (among other things) that the rate of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) was not a PCP which placed certain categories of employees at a particular disadvantage, even if female and BAME employees were disproportionately represented in the lowest earning groups. A claim for indirect sex and race discrimination under EU law therefore failed, without having to consider whether the level of SSP was justified.
Examples of jobs
- My stammer and me (stamma.org), Feb 2023 – CEO of major global brand
- I thought my stutter meant I couldn’t be a scientist. I was wrong (science.org), Oct 2022
- Lecturing – and acting – as a person who stammers (stamma.org), Jan 2023 – university lecturer, and member of a local theatre community
- John Rawls (Wikipedia) – famous political philosopher, 1921-2022.
Added a mention of Matthews Employment Tribunal decision in which the tribunal found that, on the evidence, effects of Long Covid which had already lasted 4 months “could well” last 12 months, and so were “long-term” within the EqA. Stammering can be an effect of Long Covid, though it wasn’t in this case. See Disability: Stammering starting in adulthood>Long Covid.
Disability: Failure to modify behaviour
Disability: Failure to modify behaviour belatedly updated to take account of Elliot v Dorset County Council, 2021. (I’m still working on an update of the “Substantial effect” page for Elliot and other things.)
Added EAT decision in Secretary of State for Work & Pensions v Beattie, 2022, and a revamped section Brexit: Effect of EU law when interpreting Equality Act from 2021>General principles and EU Charter. In that case the court held that an EqA regulation (on age discrimination by pensions schemes) could not be overturned for non-compliance with a general principle of EU law, where proceedings started after 2020. However as I say there, the issues discussed in this case do not seem to me to affect British courts re-interpreting the Equality Act to conform with the Directive where possible under the Marleasing principle, which is the main way the courts bring the EqA into compliance with the Directive.
Includes link to General principles as retained EU law and accrued EU law (eurelationslaw.com), November 2022, on the Beattie case.
- Previous updates Website updates November to December 2022.