15 Feb 2019

Lamb v The Garrard Academy UKEAT/0042/18

Facts

Ms Lamb told her employer (a school) that she was suffering from PTSD, which could be triggered by difficult situations, on 18 July 2012. She had been off sick since 29 February 2012. The school concluded that it did not know she was disabled until 21 November 2012, a year after her symptoms first appeared. Its reasoning was that the long-term element of the definition of disability was only satisfied at that point. It argued that the duty to make reasonable adjustments therefore only arose in November.

Decision

The EAT disagreed and held that the school ought reasonably to have known that Ms Lamb was disabled by early July 2012, since a referral to occupational health (OH) should have been made that would have found by then that she was disabled. The school had actual knowledge of her disability by 18 July 2012. Therefore the duty to make reasonable adjustments arose in July.

Comment 

This case is a reminder to employers to commission an OH report sooner rather than later. An ET will not be sympathetic to an employer that has failed to refer an employee to OH then claims that it did not know the employee was disabled.