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Could type 2 diabetes amount to a disability?

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Yes, held the Employment Appeal Tribunal in Taylor v Ladbrokes.

Mr Taylor, who suffers from type 2 diabetes, was dismissed by Ladbrokes in November 2013 and brought claims of unfair dismissal and disability discrimination. At a Preliminary Hearing, the Employment Tribunal relied on two medical reports which decided he was not disabled.

Mr Taylor appealed.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the appeal, holding the findings by the Employment Tribunal were not supported by the medical evidence and the issue of whether Mr Taylor was suffering from a progressive condition, and whether it was likely to result in a substantial adverse impairment on his ability to carry out day to day activities should be reconsidered in light of further medical evidence.

It was held that Type 2 diabetes, as a progressive condition, would amount to a disability even if it did not have a substantial adverse effect at that time, as long as it was likely that it would result in such a condition.

Mr Taylor’s diabetes was controlled by medication and there were lifestyle changes Mr Taylor could reasonably make to control the condition. However, the question was whether the condition was likely to result in an impairment to Mr Taylor. The issue was not what might happen to a proportion of the population, but whether the medical evidence suggested there was a chance of something happening. The medical evidence was not clear on this and had been misinterpreted by the Employment Tribunal. Therefore the Employment Appeal Tribunal remitted the case back to the Employment Tribunal to reconsider the issue.

This case suggests type 2 diabetes could be a disability depending on the medical prognosis of the likely impact of the condition. As this case shows, it is important to ask the right questions of the medical expert as the expert in the initial tribunal proceedings failed to consider Mr Taylor’s future prognosis, resulting in the issue of Mr Taylor’s disability unresolved.

The unanswered question here is to what extent the individual’s control over their own lifestyle should be factored in when assessing the long-term effect of type 2 diabetes. What is clear is that, on the basis of current case law, it should not be assumed that sufferers of type 2 diabetes will be protected from disability discrimination.

Solicitors from the Employment Team at MFG Solicitors received numerous queries from clients about disability discrimination, and will be delivering seminars throughout 2017. For more details about these seminars, or for any further information about these changes, please let in touch with Sally Morris at or on 01905 734032.