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Tesco Stores Limited v Mrs C Tennant – when is an individual disabled?

Mrs Tennant brought Employment Tribunal proceedings against her employer, Tesco, on 11 September 2017 for disability discrimination and harassment which as alleged took place from September 2016.

In order to claim disability discrimination and harassment, an individual must be disabled. In this context, the Equality Act 2010 defines “disability” as an impairment which has a substantial adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities and which is long-term (i.e. has lasted for at least 12 months).

Mrs Tennant suffered from depression from 6 September 2016. Tesco’s actions which led to Mrs Tennant’s claim took place in September 2016. A preliminary hearing was held to determine whether Mrs Tennant was disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act. The Employment Tribunal held that she was because by the time she brought her claim in September 2017, the ‘impairment’ (namely depression) had lasted 12 months.

Tesco appealed the decision on the basis that in order to claim disability discrimination or harassment, an individual must be disabled at the time of the relevant act and therefore the impairment must have existed for at least 12 months before the alleged discriminatory act occurred. The Employment Appeal Tribunal held that Tesco were right; Mrs Tennant was only disabled from 6 September 2017 and therefore could not bring a claim for disability discrimination and harassment based on events that occurred before that date.

Tesco Stores Ltd v Mrs C Tennant: UKEAT/0167/19/OO

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