Disability Discrimination: The Meaning of Day to Day Activities
The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has confirmed in the case of Banaszczyk v Booker Limited that manual handling and heavy lifting can constitute ‘normal day-to-day activities’ for the purpose of establishing disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.
The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against workers on the basis of disability. A person is considered to be disabled under the Act, if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities.
Mr Banaszczyk was required by his employer, Booker Limited, to perform manual handling and heavy lifting duties. As part of his employment, he was required to lift in the region of 210 cases an hour – a target known as the ‘pick rate.’ Following a back injury, Mr Banaszczyk was no longer able to meet this target. The employer subsequently dismissed him on capability grounds and Mr Banaszczyk lodged claims of unfair dismissal and disability discrimination.
In defending the claims, the employer accepted that the employee’s back injury was a long term physical impairment (a critical component to establish a “disability”). However, they disputed that Mr Banaszczyk’s heavy lifting duties constituted ‘normal day to day activities.’ In ruling in favour of the employee, the EAT explained that it was important to define the relevant activity of working life broadly, noting that no one ‘could doubt that a large number of people are employed to work lifting and moving cases of up to 25kg.’
Employers should therefore be mindful when assessing an employee’s capacity to meet a performance target, and consider whether any physical or mental impairment may be hampering the employee’s ability to do so.