This month’s example of outrageous tabloid employment law reporting comes in the form of disability discrimination. In the case of Shields v Surrey and Sussex Police saw a partially deaf sniper, who reportedly couldn’t distinguish the difference between shoot and don’t shoot, win his claim for discrimination.
He had coped with his condition throughout his 12 year career but it was only discovered by his employer when a new minimum hearing level was introduced. The Claimant argued that his condition had never impaired his ability to perform his role and that there was a special test that he could take which would determine whether he was fit for the role or not.
The tribunal agreed and allowed the claim. The interesting point to take away from this case is that sometimes discrimination is necessary to protect health and safety such as in the case of Begum v Barley Lane. However, in this case it seems that not making a reasonable adjustment has meant that the discrimination was not acceptable as the Claimant might not have been a health and safety risk.
Despite the sensationalist headlines the fact that the sniper had proved his ability and the police had made no reasonable adjustments meant legally, and practically, he could have continued as a sniper.