Employment Tribunal decides that colour blindness is not a disability

In the recent authority of Bessell -v- Chief Constable of Dorset Police, Mr Bessell suffered from red-green colour blindness and a combination of grey and pink also caused problems for him.

Mr Bessell issued a direct disability discrimination claim against his employer however the case could not proceed unless he could show that his impairment fell within the legal definition of a disability under the Equality Act 2010.

In particular the main stumbling block was whether or not his condition had a substantial and long-term adverse effect of his ability to carry out normal day -to -day activities.   In an attempt to convince the employment tribunal, Mr Bessell argued that his condition affected his abilities to cook, read, text and watch sport.

Mr Bessell also provided examples to the employment tribunal that he could not tell from the colour of meat and fish products whether they were fresh.  He also said that the colours on underground transport maps caused him difficulties and that he could not distinguish between brown and green balls when watching snooker, unless they were on their spots.

The employment tribunal said that Mr Bessel’s coping strategies resulted in his condition not substantially affecting the activities that he provided by way of example.   They said that he could use smell and texture to determine if food was fresh.

Accordingly the employment tribunal determined that Mr Bessell’s colour blindness did not have a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day – to day activities and on this basis his claim for disability discrimination could not proceed.

This is another useful authority on the development of disability discrimination.

If you believe that you require advice on any form of unlawful discrimination then contact Steven Eckett, Head of Employment at Meaby&Co LLP.

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