People are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if they are overweight or obese. In this case, the EAT had to decide whether the diabetes amounted to a disability.

Background

Mr Stout was employed by Metroline Travel Ltd as a bus driver. He suffers from type 2 diabetes, controlled by avoiding sugary drinks and by taking medication. Mr Stout brought an Employment Tribunal claim which included disability discrimination, and the Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal were asked to decide whether the diabetes amounted to a disability or not.

To be a disability, a condition must have a ‘substantial adverse effect’ on an employee’s day to day activities. Here, the EAT held that having to abstain from sugary drinks did not constitute such a substantial adverse impact.

Furthermore, any ‘treatment or correction’ should be ignored when considering whether a condition amounts to a disability. In this case, the EAT could not accept that the avoidance of sugary drinks amounted to a treatment or correction under the relevant legislation (the Equality Act 2010).

Implications

This case might have established a precedent that type 2 diabetes amounts to a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010, so employers will be relieved at the stance taken by the EAT.

Employees should note that Mr Stout was asked to pay Metroline’s appeal fee of £1,600, despite the EAT acknowledging that he was likely to have little money.

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Updates: For employers: Discrimination | Sickness problems | For employees: Discrimination | Sickness |

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