Requirement of formal interview is disability discrimination

The EAT upheld a finding of disability discrimination in London Borough of Southwark v Charles because the employer had invited the potentially redundant Mr Charles to an interview to be considered for redeployment rather than redundancy.

Mr Charles had become depressed since being notified of his redundancy and the employer had been advised that he could not attend administrative meetings.

When Mr Charles did not respond to the employer’s invite to an interview meeting, the employer took the view that it had done enough to investigate redeploying him and his employment then terminated due to redundancy.

What should the employer have done?

To properly comply with the Section 20 Equality Act duty the employer should have considered holding an informal assessment at the employee’s home, or other ways to avoid the need for him to attend for a formal interview.

This is undoubtedly harsh on employers, but it serves as yet another reminder of just how far the duty to make adjustments for disabled employees can travel.

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