Definition of Disability: Progressive Conditions (Diabetes)

19 January 2017

Can type 2 diabetes be a disability?  

Yes, held the Employment Appeal Tribunal in Taylor v Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Ltd.

After the Claimant's dismissal, he asserted he had been disabled for almost a year before the dismissal, due to type 2 diabetes. At a Preliminary Hearing, the employment tribunal relied on two medical reports and decided that he was not disabled. The Claimant appealed.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) upheld the appeal, holding that the employment tribunal had misconstrued the proper test. Type 2 diabetes, as a progressive condition, would amount to a disability even if it did not have a substantial adverse effect at that time, as long as it was likely that it would result in such a condition.

The Claimant's diabetes was controlled by medication and there were 'lifestyle' changes the Claimant could reasonably make to control the condition. However, the question was whether the condition was likely to result in an impairment. The issue was not what might happen to a proportion of the population, but whether the medical evidence suggested there was a chance of something happening. The medical evidence was not clear on this and had been misinterpreted by the tribunal. The EAT remitted back to the tribunal to reconsider the issue.

With thanks to Daniel Barnett’s employment law bulletin for providing this update.