Failure to Make Reasonable Adjustments?

Failure to Make Reasonable Adjustments?

The question of whether an employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments is often a difficult one. Even if the employer does have a duty to make adjustments the question then arises as to whether the adjustments they have purported to make or sometimes refused to make are reasonable adjustments.
In the recent case of Wade v Sheffield Hallam University the Employment Appeals Tribunal considered that an employer did not breach its duty to make reasonable adjustments by requiring a disabled employee to undergo a competitive interview process.
The University went through a period of re-organisation and the Claimant’s role was removed. She applied for a new post in 2006 and was unsuccessful in relation to two essential criteria. In 2008 the same job vacancy arose. The Claimant applied for the role but she was rejected once again.
Applying the provisions in place at the time under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (now under Equality Act 2010) the key question facing the EAT was whether or not the duty to make reasonable adjustments was breached when the employer required the Claimant to go through a competitive interview process rather than automatically appointing her to the new role.
Initially the Employment Tribunal rejected the claim after considering Archibald v Fife Council [2004] IRLR 651. In this case the House of Lords indicated that disapplying a competitive interview process could be a reasonable adjustment. The EAT confirmed the decision of the Employment Tribunal and said that on the facts in the current case there was no breach of the duty to make reasonable adjustments because the Claimant was nonetheless unable to meet the essential criteria necessary for the role.
This is not to say that the decision of the Employment Tribunal will be the same in each case as it is clear that the decision was made based on the specific circumstances relating to Mrs Wade. It is entirely possible that in the future an employer could be found to have breached its duty to make reasonable adjustments by requiring a disabled employee to undergo a competitive interview process.
Written by Anthony Fox
If you believe that your employer has discriminated against you on the grounds of your disability has failed to make reasonable adjustments the working environment in order to assist you at work or discriminated against you for any other reason Michael Lewin Solicitors have a dedicated team of employment law experts who specialise in all types of discrimination claims and will be happy to discuss any disputes that you have with your employer.

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