20 March 2015: Diet-Controlled Type 2 Diabetes was not a Disability:
Type 2 diabetes is an increasingly common medical problem, and many would assume that it amounts to a disability under the Equality Act 2010.
Under the Act, ‘disability’ means a physical or mental impairment with a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. The employer is obliged to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to facilitate that disabled person in their role and not to treat them less favourably as a result.
In Metroline Travel Ltd v Stoute, reported this week, the EAT held that bus driver Mr Stoute’s type 2 diabetes did not amount to a disability under the Act because his condition (which was controlled if Mr Stoute refrained from sugary drinks) did not have a substantial adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
Abstention from sugary drinks did not constitute a substantial adverse effect on day-to-day activities under the Act. It would be wrong for any person suffering from Type 2 diabetes controlled by diet to be automatically regarded as disabled, in the same way that it would be wrong for people with nut allergies or lactose intolerance to be regarded as disabled.
It is worth remembering though that in December 2014 the European Court of Justice in FOA (Kaltoft) v Billund held that obesity can amount to a disability. Employers not assume that anyone with diet-controlled Type 2 diabetes is not disabled; there may be other substantial affects that the condition brings to that particular person.
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