Automated telephone services: RCSLT statement
The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) has issued a Position statement on automated telephone services, including voice recognition which cannot recognise stammering. Among other things, the statement makes the point that people who communicate differently or with difficulty (including people who stammer) should be involved in the testing and evaluation of automated telephone services. More: Voice recognition telephone systems>RCSLT statement, August 2022.
Also Not having to rely on friends and family reviewed and new page title.
G v The Insolvency Service
In G v The Insolvency Service, the claimant had a stammer. He was turned down for a promotion with his existing employer, who knew of his stammer. The interview was by video due to Covid-19. He argued that reasonable adjustments should have been made, because his interview answers were not full enough due to his stammer. Feedback from the panel itself was that some of his answers were not fully expressed.
The tribunal rejected his claim for adjustments because it found the employer did not have actual or constructive knowledge of the disadvantage, ie that he was limiting his answers due to his stammer. The tribunal also rejected his claim for discrimination arising from disability (s.15 EqA) since the employer had shown that holding video interviews was justified, given the Covid-19 pandemic. The tribunal decision is under appeal to the EAT.
T v Ministry of Defence: claim allowed by former member of armed forces
In T v Ministry of Defence an employment tribunal has held that under the Human Rights Act, the Equality Act must be re-interpreted to permit a claim where disability discrimination occurs after discharge from the armed forces.
On the face of it, the Equality Act employment provisions exclude disability discrimination claims by members of the armed forces, including former members. However the tribunal held that as regards former members this breached Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It was unjustified because the purpose of the exclusion was to protect combat effectiveness, but that purpose no longer applied once someone had been discharged.
Also updated for this case: Exclusions: armed forces, illegal contracts>Claims possible after discharge from armed services?
D v Nottingham Squash Rackets Club
In D v Nottingham Squash Rackets Club, the claimant had a stammer and other disabilities. He went off work with stress due to how he was treated (not related to his disabilities). While he was still off work, he and two other members of staff were made redundant due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
His tribunal claims for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination failed. Among other things, redundancy of his job rather than his disabilities or his absence was genuinely the reason for his dismissal. The tribunal also considered how his communication would have been in a redundancy consultation via Zoom call had he been well enough to take part in one.
Link on universities assessing oral presentations
- Presentations are a poor substitute for genuine student engagement (timeshighereducation.com), 18 July 2022, free login – eg “Communication and presentation skills: wonderful. But don’t pretend they’re a necessary part of a physics curriculum. / And don’t assess students on them. To do so is patently unfair…”.
Financial Ombudsman case
There is apparently a 2022 court case, which I haven’t seen, on how far the Financial Ombudsman has to make reasonable adjustments in its own proceedings: Appearing in court>Financial Ombudsman case.
Examples of jobs
- A police officer who started a Sussex Police stammering network has been named as the British Association for Women in Policing’s Police Officer of the Year: see Facebook post by Sussex Police Federation, June 2022.
- The Stuttering Coach (YouTube video), autobiographical childrens book (austinmacauley.com) on being a football coach with a stammer, 2022
- The conference challenges faced by scientists who stutter (nature.com, behind paywall), July 2022 – Nature spoke with two scientists who stammer and one with transient aphasia.
Institute of Acoustics (IOA) stammering support
For professionals involved in acoustics across the UK who stammer to come together in a mutually supportive environment. Started 2022. Scroll down to it on Professional networks (stamma.org).
Added to my Employment stammering networks page.
Nuclear Stammering Network
At Sellafield: Stammering: what it is and how an employee network is helping (gov.uk), October 2021.
Added to my Employment stammering networks page.
Equality and Human Rights Commission
Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) page reviewed and updated.
EU discrimination law in Northern Ireland
Brexit: disability discrimination in Northern Ireland page updated, including:
- NI High Court in Re SPUC Pro-Life, 2022 saying “Thus, it will be seen that Article 2 has direct effect and legal persons such as the applicant in this case are able to rely on it in domestic courts.”
- Annual report: Implementation of Article 2 of the NI Protocol (equalityni.org), July 2022.
Ahmed v DWP: s.15 EqA
The EAT confirmed that a broad approach is to be taken in deciding whether there is sufficient causal link with the claimant’s disability under s.15 EqA (disability arising from discrimination). It confirmed this in Ahmed v DWP, 2022, citing the previous Risby decision.
Also brief note of the case in Reasonable adjustment rules: employment>Can a one-off decision be a PCP?
People who find this site useful sometimes ask if they can make a donation towards costs. Rather than donating to me, please consider a donation to STAMMA (the British Stammering Association). More: Donations.
Mallon v Aecom: auxiliary services, and help from others
After the EAT decided the claim should not be struck out, this case has now been heard by an employment tribunal which upheld the reasonable adjustment claim. I’ve added this employment tribunal decision to my page on the case.
Human rights updates
Updates of human rights pages:
The following reviewed and updated:
- Human Rights Act 1998/ European Convention, including Where may Convention rights increase Equality Act protection?
- Disability under Article 14 European Convention
- Scope of European Convention rights
- What is ‘discrimination’ under Article 14 European Convention? – particular update of sections on reasonable accommodation (ie reasonable adjustments), and on Justification in the light of the SC case below
- Enforcement of European Convention and HRA 1998.
Supreme Court case on justification under Article 14 European Convention
In R (SC) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 2021, the Supreme Court held that legislation limiting tax credit to the first two children in a household is not unlawful discrimination contrary to Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The legislation was justified.
The Supreme Court decision is important in clarifying (at least for the UK courts) various points on justification, including what discretion, or “margin of appreciation” the courts should allow to Parliament if the measure relates to economic or social strategy (tending to a wide margin of appreciation) but the discrimination is on a “suspect” ground such as sex or disability.
Lárusson v Iceland, May 2022
In Lárusson v Iceland, the ECtHR in Strasbourg rejected a claim by a wheelchair user that failure to make two buildings in his municipality accessible was a breach of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The ECtHR said this was an exceptional case where his lack of access to public buildings affected his life sufficiently to fall within the ambit of Article 8 (private life). Therefore Article 14 did apply.
However given the state’s wide “margin of appreciation”, ie discretion, and what it had done towards making public buildings accessible (it had prioritised educational and sports facilities), the court could not say that the state of Iceland had done too little to make public buildings accessible.
Also added: Scope of European Convention rights>How far are social/cultural activities within the ambit of Article 8?, including possible relevance to stammering and other non-mobility disabilities.
Toplak and Mrak v Slovenia, 2021
In Toplak and Mrak v Slovenia, the two applicants were wheelchair users. They claimed to the Strasbourg court that their local voting facilities were not sufficiently accessible, so that there was discrimination contrary to the European Convention of Human Rights.
Their claims for reasonable accommodation failed. For a 2015 referendum, the physical premises were accessible, and any problems with access or the arrangements inside did not produce a particularly prejudicial impact on the applicants. By the time of elections in 2019, the first applicant’s disability was such that he could not mark his own ballot paper. However the court held the authorities were not obliged to use voting machines so that he could vote without needing an assistant.
G. L. v Italy, 2020
In G. L. v Italy a child with non-verbal autism was provided with no specialist assistance in at least her first two years at primary school, apart from what her parents paid for.
The ECtHR in Strasbourg held there was a failure to make reasonable accommodation, in breach of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Italian authorities had prioritised support for a different condition which they considered more serious. However the ECtHR considered that in the circumstances – Italy’s inclusive schooling model and case law of the Italian courts – any budgetary restrictions should affect educational provision in an identical manner for both disabled and non-disabled pupils. The authorities had not done enough to consider the claimant’s needs and possible solutions.
Strasbourg case on disability from 2016
Added Guberina v Croatia, where the ECtHR in Strasbourg held that the failure to grant the applicant a tax exemption was disability discrimination contrary to Article 14 European Convention of Human Rights.
Tax authorities had failed to take account of the specific needs of the applicant’s profoundly disabled child when they refused to grant an exemption. The court said that very weighty reasons were needed to justify a state restricting someone’s fundamental rights on grounds of disability.
Previous updates Website updates May to June 2022.