Employment Review: May 2015 - Type 2 diabetes does not amount to disability under the Equality Act

Under the Equality Act 2010, a person is disabled where they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. The question in the recent case of Metro line Travel Ltd v Stoute was whether an employee with Type 2 diabetes, which was controlled by abstaining from sugary drinks, could be disabled.

Mr Stoute was employed by Metroline as a bus driver. After being dismissed for gross misconduct, Mr Stoute submitted a number of claims that included various allegations of disability discrimination. Metroline disputed that he was disabled.

The claim that his dismissal was connected to his disability was rejected. However the issue of whether he was in fact disabled proceeded to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) which found against him on that too.Mr Stoute had controlled his Type 2 diabetes by avoiding sugary drinks. The EAT held that Type 2 diabetes did not amount to a disability per se and abstention from sugary drinks did not constitute a substantial adverse effect on day-to-day activities, within the meaning of 'disability' in the Equality Act 2010. Most importantly it was not considered that abstaining from sugary drinks amounted to a 'treatment or correction' that must be ignored when assessing the effect of an impairment


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