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Diet-controlled type 2 diabetes is not a disability

In the recent case of Metroline Travel Ltd v Stoute, the EAT has overturned an employment Tribunal’s decision that an employee’s type 2 diabetes amounted to a “disability” under the Equality Act 2010.

Background

The Claimant was a bus driver working for Metroline Travel Ltd.  He suffered from Type 2 diabetes; this was controlled by avoiding sugary drinks.

At a Preliminary Hearing the Employment Tribunal held that Mr Stoute was disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010. The Respondents appealed this decision.

EAT decision:

1. The Employment Appeal Tribunal allowed the appeal, stating that a condition that could be controlled by refraining from drinking sugary drinks could not be considered a disability under the 2010 Act. The EAT Judge said that the guidance on the Act made the above clear; a condition controlled with a minor alteration to diet, was not a long term condition that had an adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities.

2. This decision is quite significant as the Tribunal will normally consider the effect of a condition when it is not being controlled e.g. without medication in order to determine whether or not it is a disability within the meaning of the 2010 Act. E.g. the effect of diabetes when it is not controlled by insulin. There is therefore a distinction between medication that controls symptoms and matters that exacerbate them.

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