• Robert Spicer

Disability discrimination: Asperger’s syndrome: knowledge of employer

DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION

Knowledge of employer

Case Watterson v Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (2016) Eq Opp Rev 270:30, Belfast IT

Facts W was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a sub-group of the autistic spectrum, after he was dismissed. He was employed by H. he sent lengthy, rambling and persistent emails to a young female colleague. He was prosecuted for harassment and dismissed for gross misconduct. He complained of disability discrimination in that the employer had failed to make reasonable adjustments in relation to its decision to proceed with disciplinary proceedings.

Decision 1. The complaint was upheld.

  1. As a large organisation with considerable resources, the employer should have been able to make enquiries about W’s behaviour and possible autism even though no formal diagnosis had been made at the time of dismissal. The issue had been raised by W’s barrister during the prosecution proceedings.

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