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Paranoid delusions were unlikely to recur so the claimant was not “disabled”

A claimant who suffered two episodes of paranoid delusions, which affected his timekeeping and attendance at work, was dismissed by his employer on the basis of his capability. The claimant brought numerous claims to the tribunal. The tribunal upheld the claim for unfair dismissal but rejected the disability discrimination claim and the unlawful deduction of wages claim. The claimant’s appeal to the EAT was dismissed, so the claimant appealed to the Court of Appeal.

Even though the delusional episodes had a substantial adverse effect on the employee’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, the Court of Appeal held the tribunal were allowed to state the effect was not likely to recur or continue for at least 12 months. Therefore, the delusional episodes did not have a substantial and long-term adverse effect (and therefore, did not amount to a disability under the Equality Act 2010).

When the tribunal considered whether the substantial adverse effect was likely to recur, it was not relevant that the delusional episode recurred in the second episode. Even though a substantial adverse effect recurring in another episode might suggest there is a strong chance that a further episode could recur, the court stated this will not always be the case. On the facts, the tribunal were correct in finding the later delusional episode had been triggered by an event that was unlikely to continue or recur.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the claimant’s appeal and upheld the employment tribunal’s findings – that the employee was not disabled under the Equality Act 2010.