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What must a claimant do to prove they are disabled?

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Mrs Nissa was employed by Waverly Education Foundation Limited and worked at a School as a Science Teacher. She was employed from September 2013 until her employment ended on 31st August 2016 by reason of her resignation.

She brought claims of disability discrimination to the Employment Tribunal against both the School and its Principal, Ms Newsome.

As the School disputed that she was a disabled person under the Equality Act 2010 (EQA), in order for her to be able to continue her claim, a tribunal had to consider whether she met the tests under the EQA. If she did not meet the tests to satisfy the definition of disability, her claims would fail.

Mrs Nissa relied on her diagnosis of fibromyalgia and mental distress in support of her contention that she was a disabled person under the EQA. She argued that her impairments caused her to suffer a substantial and long-term adverse effect on her ability to carry out day-to-day activities.

The tribunal found that she did not meet all of the required tests so she appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).

The EAT held that the tribunal was wrong to adopt a narrow approach by focusing on the diagnosis and not the effects of the impairment. The EAT also found that the tribunal had failed to consider the deduced effects (the effects on Mrs Nissa when not taking medication), when assessing whether the effects were substantial. The tribunal was found to be incorrect in their finding that the medical report by Dr Allcock did not provide evidence of the effects.

The case has been remitted for reconsideration by a newly constituted tribunal.


This case demonstrates the value of medical evidence in a claim for disability discrimination where disability is disputed, and highlights the importance of a claimant being able to successfully prove that their impairment has a substantial effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.  

If you believe you have been discriminated against because of your disability, or would like to discuss this article in more detail, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the employment team.

Nissa v Waverly Education Foundation Limited and Newsome UKEAT/0135/18/DA

This article is not a definitive statement of the law. It is designed as a free update on the law at the time of publishing. It is not a substitute for legal advice on specific facts and circumstances. BakerLaw LLP and/or the writer accepts no liability or responsibility for reliance on this article and recommends that you seek independent legal advice on your specific circumstances prior to taking any steps.