Knowledge of a disability is required for discrimination arising from disability. If an employer can show that they did not know and could not reasonably be expected to have known that the employee had a disability, they cannot be held liable for discrimination arising from disability. However, in City of York Council v Grosset the employer was aware of the disability, but they were not aware of its consequences.
Mr Grosset, a teacher at one of the Council's schools suffered from cystic fibrosis. When he was given additional responsibilities at work his disability meant he could not cope. He claimed discrimination arising from his disability and a failure to make reasonable adjustments and was successful before an Employment Tribunal. These matters were not appealed. However, the Tribunal had gone on to find that Mr Grosset's dismissal was also discrimination arising from disability. Mr Grosset had been dismissed for showing an 18 film (Halloween) to a class of vulnerable 15 and 16 year olds.
Medical evidence was produced before the Tribunal (that was not available to the employer at the time of the dismissal) that showed Mr Grosset's error of judgement in showing the film had been caused by his disability. He had therefore been dismissed for a reason that arose from his disability albeit the Council were not aware of it at the time they took the decision to dismiss. The Tribunal then went on to consider whether the dismissal was justified. While they accepted that safeguarding children and maintaining disciplinary standards were legitimate aims, they found that dismissal was not proportionate and accordingly the discrimination could not be justified.
Mr Grosset had also made a claim of unfair dismissal but the Tribunal had rejected that claim finding that the Council had acted reasonably in dismissing on the basis of the evidence it had before it at the time.