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Employee with condition described as “pre-cancerous” was deemed disabled

Mrs Lofty was dismissed following absences from work, at least some of which were related to treatment for her pre-cancerous condition. In proceedings for alleged disability discrimination, it was concluded by an employment tribunal that she did not have cancer within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010 (EqA 2010) and therefore did not benefit from provisions that she had a deemed disability.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal disagreed.  It said that the evidence before the tribunal explained that “pre-cancer” may be regarded as medical shorthand for a particular stage in the development of cancer; it does not mean there is no cancer.

In light of this decision, an employer should be extremely cautious before concluding that a condition labelled as “pre-cancerous” does not mean “cancer”. It would need cogent medical evidence to that effect.