Discrimination arising from a disability

Posted on May 17th, 2024

In the case of Bodis v Lindfield Christian Care Home, Ms Bodis was employed as an activities co-ordinator. From October 2018, a number of unusual incidents occurred. This included paper towels being stuck down the staff toilets, displays damaged, reports soaked in water, a poster of staff vandalised and photographs of management defaced by the addition of facial hair.

Disciplinary investigation

An investigation was undertaken, and Ms Bodis was found to be the only person on duty when all the incidents had occurred. At the material times, Ms Bodis was disabled with anxiety and depression. She was invited to a disciplinary hearing in March 2019. Ms Bodis denied she was the culprit and did not offer any alternative explanation for the strange events.


The disciplinary panel found on the balance of probabilities that Ms Bodis was guilty of the incidents. They further found the behaviour to be inappropriate and the employment relationship had broken down. Ms Bodis was dismissed for gross misconduct. She chose not to appeal.

Tribunal claims

Ms Bodis brought claims of unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal, failure to make reasonable adjustments and discrimination arising from a disability. It was noted at the employment tribunal (ET) that no further incidents occurred following Ms Bodis’s dismissal. The claims of unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal were dismissed as it was held the company had reasonably concluded, after a reasonable investigation, that Ms Bodis was guilty of the misconduct and dismissal fell within the band of reasonable responses. The claims of failure to make reasonable adjustments were upheld, the ET finding Ms Bodis should have been given advance notice of what was to be discussed at the investigation meeting and given the opportunity to be represented.

Discrimination arising from a disability

The unfavourable treatment with regards to the claim for discrimination arising from a disability were specifically identified as ‘Subjecting Ms Bodis to a disciplinary process in 2019’ and ‘Dismissing Ms Bodis on 29 March 2019’. The ET accepted that the manner in which Ms Bodis answered questions during the investigation meeting was something that arose in consequence of her disability, namely the fact that her answers were sometimes brief and not to the point. They also found that it had influenced the decision to proceed to a disciplinary hearing. However, it held that it was only to a trivial extent and not the effective cause of the decision of the disciplinary panel to dismiss Ms Bodis. The ET also found that the treatment was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. The claim was therefore dismissed.

Employment appeal tribunal (EAT)

The EAT disagreed and found that the ET had erred in holding that the treatment was not because of something arising in consequence of disability. However, the claim still failed because the decision to proceed to a disciplinary hearing was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Advice to schools

The above case highlights that even a minor contributing factor to a decision can amount to discrimination arising from a disability. It is important in all disciplinary matters that a fair and thorough process is followed. Decisions at each stage should be carefully considered to ensure they are not based on any matters which could amount to discriminatory treatment.

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