May 7, 2015

Type 2 diabetes is not a disability

The employee was dismissed for gross misconduct but brought claims of disability discrimination, amongst other things. A preliminary hearing determined that he was disabled on the basis of his type 2 diabetes and referred to him taking medication to reduce his blood sugar levels as well as avoiding sugary drinks. The employer appealed this decision and concurrently with this appeal, the claims proceeded to a full hearing and were all rejected. The meaning of disability was still pursued to the appeal, however.

The EAT allowed the appeal against the finding of disability and determined that the individual was not disabled purely because, by abstaining from drinking sugary drinks, his condition did not manifest itself to have a substantial adverse effect on his ability to carry out day to day activities. The EAT held that type 2 diabetes would not necessarily always amount to a disability. It held that, while a particular diet might be "treatment or correction" that must be ignored when assessing the effect of an impairment, it did not consider that abstaining from sugary drinks was sufficient to amount to such treatment.

This legal update is provided for general information purposes only and should not be applied to specific circumstances without prior consultation with us.

For further details on any of the issues covered in this update please contact Gemma Ospedale, Partner in Employment on 020 7583 2222.

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