Discrimination: Unfavourable Treatment

Trustees of Swansea University Pension & Assurance Scheme & Anor v Williams. The Court of Appeal has held that ‘unfavourable treatment’ is not to be equated with detriment, for the purposes of a claim of discrimination in consequence of something arising from a disability.

The Claimant took ill-health retirement, aged 38, and received a pension as if he had worked until retirement at 67 without actuarial reduction, payable immediately upon retirement. However, the pension was calculated on a part-time salary; before retiring the Claimant had worked part-time to accommodate his disabilities. He claimed that the failure to pay him the equivalent full-time pension was unfavourable treatment in consequence of something arising from his disability.

The Tribunal upheld his claim, equating 'unfavourable' with the concept of 'detriment'. Subsequently, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) overturned this decision. Now the Court of Appeal has upheld the EAT’s decision but set aside the order for remission to the Employment Tribunal, dismissing the claims.

In Practice

The critical question was whether treatment, which confers advantages on a disabled person, but would have conferred greater advantages had his disability arisen more suddenly, amounts to “unfavourable treatment” within section 15 of the Equality Act 2010. The Court of Appeal concluded it did not, and supported the EAT’s analysis.

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