Chronic Anxiety Syndrome

Employment Law – Employment Lawyers – Direct Discrimination – Disability Discrimination - Chronic Anxiety Syndrome

 

The case of Jelic v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police [2010] involved a decision relating to an employee that was diagnosed with chronic anxiety syndrome. In August 1997, the employee began serving as a police constable at the age of 40. He successfully completed his two year probationary period and his service was uneventful until February 2002. In February 2002 he was seconded to the traffic department.

During his work with the traffic department, he became unwell and developed what was subsequently diagnosed as chronic anxiety syndrome.

The employee was then reassigned to the community service desk, a position which meant that the employee worked within the restrictions which applied to him. The position meant that the employee had very little contact with the public. It should be noted that telephone contact was not a problem for the employee.

Then, in June 2007, the employer's occupational health advisor reported that the employee's condition was unlikely to improve prior to his normal retirement date. Although he was fit to carry out his duties, if his role changed so that it involved more contact with the public he would struggle in such circumstances.

The employer had considered that all reasonable adjustments at regional level had been exhausted. Then, without any prior warning the employee was asked to attend a meeting on the 9th of July 2007. At the meeting a decision was made to refer him to a selected medical practitioner (“SMP”) to consider whether there were any appropriate medical grounds on which to force his retirement.

The SMP noted in his report that suitable non-confrontational work would mean that the risk of further absences would be minimised, however, the employee's chronic anxiety syndrome might still lead to further absences. The SMP’s opinion was that the employee was permanently disabled in this respect, and should not perform the full duties of a police officer in light of his condition.

The employee elected not to respond to the SMP's report and did not lodge any appeal with his employer.

Subsequently, on the 7th of April, the employee was informed that his retirement had been approved by the Chief Constable. The employee was granted an ill health pension.

The employee then complained that his disability had been caused by the employer. Accordingly, he requested that provision of an injury award be considered and he made reference to the lack of reasonable adjustments made by the employer. No such award was made.

The employee brought a claim before the employment tribunal alleging direct discrimination, disability related discrimination and harassment, in addition to the claim that he was discriminated against by reason that the employer had failed to make reasonable adjustments. The tribunal held that in this case it would have been reasonable carry out the following:

§  To swap the jobs that were being undertaken by the employee and another police constable in the circumstances; or

§  To medically retire the employee on a police pension and immediately re-employ him in a civilian support staff role in the force.

The employer appealed against this decision.

On appeal, the employer argued that the tribunal had been erroneous in reaching the conclusion that it would have been an alternative, reasonable adjustment for it to medically retire the employee and then redeploy him in a civilian support staff role.

The appeal was allowed.

It was held that the employer had been vulnerable as a result of its failure to consult, and furthermore, there had been no suggestion that the employee could not have satisfactorily worked in a civilian support staff role.

However, it was held that there was a very brief analysis of the adjustment in the tribunal's judgment as its task of assessing the reasonableness of either option was made more difficult due to the fact that the lack of information.

The case involved numerous issues, some of which came to light only towards the end of the hearing. Even so, the tribunal's conclusion that was reached in relation to a clearly important point was held to have been reasoned inadequately, and accordingly could not be upheld.

If you require further information please contact us at enquiries@rtcooperssolicitors.com or visit one of the following pages:

§   http://www.rtcoopers.com/practice_employment.php

§   http://www.rtcoopers.com/faq-redundancyemployee.php

§   http://www.employmentlawyersinlondon.com/video.php

§   http://www.employmentlawyersinlondon.com

§   http://www.adviceoncompromiseagreements.com .

© RT COOPERS, 2010. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.

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