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Appeal successful for employee diagnosed as autistic

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

In the case of Elliott v Dorset County Council Mr Elliott worked for Dorset Council as a Geographical Information Systems Manager. He was subject to disciplinary proceedings by a new line manager in which it was alleged that he had falsely recorded his working times, recording more hours than he had worked. The Claimant contended that he had agreed with his old line manager that he would record working hours of 9 to 5, irrespective of the exact hours he worked. On occasions he was absent during the working day, but often worked until late into the night at home; working considerably more than his contracted hours in total.

During the disciplinary proceedings Elliott’s union representative suggested that he should consider obtaining a referral for assessment to establish whether he was on the autistic spectrum because of some of the characteristics he was displaying when trying to deal with the problems with his manager. Elliott was subsequently independently diagnosed as meeting the criteria for Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

The Appeal found that that the Employment Judge erred in law. She did not sufficiently identify the day-to-day activities, including work activities, that Elliott could not do, or could only do with difficulty, to found a proper analysis. She only considered public speaking and socialising; failing to analyse the other impairments raised in evidence that she accepted as true, such as difficulty in coping with changes to procedures, and communication. A new tribunal will be scheduled.

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