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.
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.
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.