DDA and reasonable adjustments

28 August 2014

Was there a failure to make reasonable adjustments in dismissing a health visitor following her conviction for theft, dangerous driving and battery?

Thanks to Daniel Barnett for sharing news of the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) decision in Howorth v North Lancashire Teaching PCT.

Mrs Howorth had been suffering from mental illness and pleaded guilty to the offences despite apparently suffering from automatism at the time they were committed. The employment tribunal found that the Trust's failure to consider alternatives to dismissal was a failure to make reasonable adjustments. At the remedies hearing, it then found that no adjustment could have succeeded in keeping Mrs Howorth in work. The EAT found that there was an error of law. Given that no adjustment could have succeeded, there was no failure to make reasonable adjustments.

Mrs Howorth also claimed discrimination arising from disability for the Trust's refusal to re-employ her as a health visitor following her application for another post. This claim failed, on the basis that the Trust was not required to ignore the conviction given that this was a clinical job and enhanced vetting applied. The EAT upheld the employment tribunal's original decision on this point.