Case EDA1914 is useful in that this issue was addressed by the Labour Court.
The court set out that the question of reasonable accommodation is the subject of much case law and that it has a legal rather than a moral meaning.
The court pointed out that the existence of a disability, in itself, is not enough to establish a claim of discrimination. The court pointed out the case in Margetts –v- Graham Anthony & Company Limited EDA038 where the complainant must produce other facts from which it may be inferred on the balance of probabilities that an act of discrimination had occurred. In this particular case it was accepted by both parties that the complainant was deemed medically fit to return to work but this was not facilitated because the respondent was unable to secure insurance cover for him to drive vehicles.
The court pointed out that the case of an employer-v- a worker EDA13/2004 is a case where the Labour Court noted that reasonable accommodation can involve special treatment that would enable the employee to undertake the duties attached to a job. However, it is difficult, as the court pointed out to see what special treatment could have been used to allow a driver to undertake driving duties if insurance could not be secured for him doing so.
The court quoted the case of Nano Nagle where it was pointed out in that case that the complainant could not perform the central tasks of the job and that no accommodation could change that. The court also pointed out the case of Excellence Limited is a case where the Labour Court noted that an employer is not required to provide an alternative job.
This is an important restatement of the law by the Labour Court.
*Before acting or refraining from acting on anything in this guide, legal advice should be sought from a solicitor.
**In contentious cases, a solicitor may not charge fees or expenses as a portion or percentage of any award of settlement.