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Disability discrimination: Dismissal for incapacity owing to unexplained illness was unlawful discrimination

This report relates to 1 case(s)

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    HJ Heinz Co Ltd v Kenrick [2000] IRLR 144 EAT (2 other reports)

    • Knowledge of disability not essential

      1 March 2000

      In H J Heinz Co v Kenrick (3 December 1999) EOR90B, the EAT rules that knowledge of a disability is not required for an employer to be said to have acted for a reason that relates to the disability. The EAT also gives guidance on the standard for justifying disability discrimination.

    • Knowledge of disability not required

      1 March 2000

      In HJ Heinz Co Ltd v Kenrick the EAT has held that in order to be said to have acted for a reason related to a disabled person's disability, it is not necessary that the employer knows of the disability.

In HJ Heinz & Co Ltd v Kenrick 3.12.99 EAT 1082/98, the EAT upholds an employment tribunal's decision that an employer unlawfully discriminated against an employee who had been off work for 10 months with undiagnosed chronic fatigue syndrome, and was still incapable of doing his job, by dismissing him. It was sufficient if, objectively regarded, the relationship between the employee's disability and the dismissal existed, whether or not it featured in the employer's mind, although in this case the employer did know that the employee's symptoms fell within the statutory definition of "disability" when it decided to dismiss him. Further, although the threshold for justification is very low, the dismissal was not justified.