Is it disability discrimination to refuse to employ somebody because you think that a condition they have may become a disability in future? In the recent case of Chief Constable of Norfolk vs Coffey, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) decided that yes it is.

Ms Coffey was a serving police officer with Wiltshire Police who suffered from a degree of hearing loss. Norfolk Police refused a transfer request because they believed that her hearing would deteriorate in the future and she would have to be put on restricted duties. The EAT said this was direct discrimination based on a perception of future disability. They also said there would be a gap in equality law if employers were able to dismiss people who they thought might become disabled in future just to avoid the duty to make adjustments or allowances.

Disability discrimination claims can be very expensive for a business

There is no upper limit on awards. If you are considering interviewing a disabled or potentially disabled candidate we strongly recommend that you speak to a member of our employment law team beforehand so that you can stay in the right side of the law.


The Backhouse Solicitors Team

Tel:         01245 893400