Summary: Does long-term stress amount to a disability?
No, unless it is combined with something else, says the EAT in Herry v Dudley MBC available here.
Facts: Mr Herry, a former teacher, brought a claim against his employer for disability discrimination (amongst other claims) on the basis that he was suffering from stress.
The Tribunal dismissed Mr Herry’s claims and found that the employee’s stress had been a reaction to difficulties at work rather than a mental impairment, and he had failed to establish that his condition had a substantial adverse effect on his day-to-day activities. The EAT agreed and said that “Unhappiness with a decision or a colleague, a tendency to nurse grievances, or a refusal to compromise are not of themselves mental impairments: they may simply reflect a person’s character or personality.” The EAT found that the fact that Mr Herry had been certified unfit to work did not necessarily mean he was disabled.
Comment: This decision helpfully confirms that a feeling of unhappiness with treatment received will not amount to a disability even if a fit note from the doctor describes this as ‘stress’ and it results in absence from work.