Long-term stress a disability?

Herry v Dudley MBC

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held in this case that long-term stress does not amount to a disability unless there is something else on top of the stress.

The Claimant asserted he had two disabilities, namely dyslexia and stress, and made more than 90 allegations of race and disability discrimination. On the disability point the EAT considered the distinction between stress and mental illness. Paragraph 56 of their judgment said "Unhappiness with a decision or a colleague, or a tendency to nurse grievances or a refusal to compromise are not of themselves mental impairments." The Claimant therefore failed to establish a mental impairment. He also failed to show a substantial adverse impact, presenting little or no evidence that his stress had any impact on normal day to day activities.

In Practice

This decision will be good news to employers, many of whom face claims from employees who have been off sick with long-term stress. Previous cases have demonstrated that long-term stress can be a disability, but this case confirms that more needs to be shown by the Claimant in order to succeed with a discrimination claim.

At Frettens, all of our solicitors offer a free initial meeting or chat on the phone to answer your questions. If this article raises issues for you or your business, please call us on 01202 499255 and Paul, Kate or Andrew will be happy to discuss it with you.