Perception that hearing impairment could be a disability was unlawful

In Chief Constable of Norfolk v Coffey, C suffers from mild hearing loss with tinnitus. There is a standard for hearing loss in the police service, but guidance provides if loss is borderline, a practical test to assess functional disability should take place. C passed the test at the Wiltshire Constabulary and worked as a police constable on front-line duty with no adverse effects for two years. C applied for a transfer to the Norfolk Constabulary (NC). This was refused because the transfer of “risk” assessment and management of her ability to perform the role of a frontline officer would become NC’s responsibility and C’s hearing was below the recognised standard. An ET upheld C’s claim of direct discrimination because of perceived disability. NC’s reasoning could only be interpreted as perceiving that C had a potential or actual disability which could lead to adjustments having to be made to C’s role as a police officer. The EAT rejected the NC’s appeal. The ET was correct to find that NC perceived C to be disabled because It was thought C’s condition could well progress to the extent that she would have to be placed on restricted duties; and this risk was at the very least part of the reason why her application was rejected

 

Source: https://www.thehrdirector.com/legal-updates/legal-updates-2018/perception-hearing-impairment-disability-unlawful/

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