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Employer failed to make reasonable adjustments for dyspraxia

In the recent case of AECOM Ltd v Mallon [2023] EAT 104, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) found that the employer was under a duty to make reasonable adjustments for a job applicant with dyspraxia which required him to complete an online application form which put him at a substantial disadvantage.

The applicant applied for a job with AECOM Limited. He had emailed his CV to AECOM’s HR department which included information about his dyspraxia and asked if he could make an oral application due to his disability. The AECOM’s HR manager contacted the applicant to inform him that he needed to complete an online application form and that if he required assistance, he would need to contact them. The applicant was unable to complete his application form and brought a disability discrimination claim against the company for failing to make reasonable adjustments.

The tribunal upheld the applicant’s claim that he was put at a substantial disadvantage. Although the company did not have ‘actual knowledge’ of the disability, the tribunal found that they did have ‘constructive knowledge’ as they ought to have known that the applicant faced a disadvantage due to his dyspraxia. The tribunal found that it would not have been reasonable for him to explain himself further by email due to his difficulties with written communication. The company appealed the tribunal’s decision of ‘constructive knowledge’ by stating that it was flawed.

The EAT found that the company should have made reasonable enquiries into the nature of the applicant’s dyspraxia which should have involved a phone call to the applicant as his lack of responses to emails was due to his difficulty with written communication. If the company had made reasonable enquiries, they would have had knowledge of the disability to make reasonable adjustments which is an obligation under the Equality Act 2010.

This is useful guidance to employers to understand their obligations during recruitment.