Bipolar disorder, also known as bipolar affective disorder, is a mood disorder which can cause your mood to swing from an extreme high to an extreme low. This can be a lifetime mental health problem, but a Manchester-based teacher with this condition was discriminated against by his employer after he was continued to be suspended, despite being determined medically fit to work.
What is discrimination?
Discrimination at work is forbidden under The Equality Act 2010, which provides protection for every section of UK employment, including recruitment, training, promotion/lack of promotion, dismissal, differences in employee pay, and unfavourable treatment in the workplace.
Direct discrimination is usually the most visible discrimination type, eg. a common case of direct discrimination involves an employer not offering an applicant a job because of their race or age. It can also include giving them adverse terms and conditions because of a protected characteristic.
On the other hand, indirect discrimination can still be very present as an issue – but is more difficult to recognise. An example of indirect discrimination would be when there is a policy in place which applies in the same way for everybody but disadvantages a group of people who share a protected characteristic. However, if the organisation can show there is a good reason for its policy, it is not indirect discrimination.
What happened in this case?
In the Manchester tribunal, Gary Day-Davies was founded to be subjected to discrimination after the trust rejected evidence from a psychologist and Day-Davies’ GP that he was well enough to work. Additional claims of victimisation were withdrawn, and a number of other claims of discrimination were dismissed.
Day-Davies initially started working for the trust in February 2015 with his bipolar disorder. This condition meant he was particularly affected by fluctuating mood episodes, as well as depressive episodes, often occurring throughout the day. However, on 4 September 2017 during a non-pupil day, the teacher’s conduct was questioned by a member of staff, along with other colleagues, who expressed concern about his behaviour.
Andrew Griffin, a principal for one of the trust’s schools conducted that Day-Davies could not attend his place of work later in the week when pupils would be in school. This decision was disputed with Lisa Cole, the trust’s head of HR, as no expert medical opinion had been reported – believing that the decision was unlawful.
Cole then consulted with wrote to Day-Davies saying she was in full support of these actions, as the school had a duty of care to ensure that he and the children were safe. Therefore, if there was a risk that this isn’t the case, Day-Davies should not be attending on a day-to-day basis.
However, Day-Davies authorised his GP to release a medical report on the effects of his condition and met with a clinical psychologist. Based on this, the psychologist wrote to the school to say she had “no concerns” Day-Davies posed a risk to either himself or anyone else. But when attending school the following day, he was formally suspended on medical grounds with immediate effect.
Based on a number of events, Day-Davies presented a number of claims to the Manchester ET in December where the tribunal ruled that Day-Davies had been discriminated against in two instances.
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