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Rothwell v. Pelikan Hardcopy Scotland


Employment Appeal Tribunal

Bryan Rothwell was employed as a project engineer. The employers knew that he has had Parkinson's disease since 1989. In 2003, his health deteriorated and he went off work ill. He was referred to an independent occupational health physician, Dr Carroll. She wrote to the employers stating that “I feel it is extremely unlikely he will recover sufficiently to allow him a return to work in the future but I have requested a consultant report.”

The consultant neurologist's report to Dr Carroll was in more optimistic terms and referred to the possibility of a new treatment. Dr Carroll had a meeting with Mr Rothwell and discussed the consultant's report with him, but did not give him a copy. After the meeting, Dr Carroll wrote to the employers advising them that she was of the opinion that Mr Rothwell would not be fit to return to work in the foreseeable future.

When the employers received the report, a meeting was fixed with Mr Rothwell. At the meeting, it was apparent that a decision to dismiss the employee had already been taken.

Mr Rothwell brought a claim for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination. An employment tribunal dismissed both claims. As regards the claim under the Disability Discrimination Act, the tribunal found that he had been treated less favourably by reason of his disability, but that the treatment was justified. The tribunal then considered whether there were any reasonable adjustments that the employers should have made, but found that there were none. The tribunal also dismissed the unfair dismissal complaint.

On appeal, it was submitted for the claimant that it would have been a reasonable adjustment for the employers to have consulted with him on the proper assessment of his continued employment prior to dismissing him.

[2006] IRLR 24

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