back to article Disability question turns on employee's abilities

Employment tribunals should assess worker disability not in comparison with the rest of the population, but in comparison with the performance of that worker without that disability, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has ruled. The ruling was given in the case of a senior policeman who requested extra time in examinations …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    State of Disabilities in the UK

    I'm sorry this policeman has to go through this process. It seems like the tribunal's understanding of disabilities is not up to par by US standards. As a dyslexic with absolutely no trouble reading at speed (but with considerable processing slowdowns when composing), I have received extra time on exams from grade school onward. I was thinking about pursuing a PhD in the life sciences in the UK, but if this is the way eligible persons are treated, I will strongly reconsider.

  2. DZ-Jay

    A slippery slope

    So what stops him from claiming "disability" by stating that, since he is not a savant or otherwise gifted person, his memory retention, and therefore by extension, his ability to secure a perfect score on these tests, is impared. If you are going to compare something as unquantifiable as "individual potential" of performance, where do you draw the line?

    I am therefore going to request that my employer pay me the same performance bonus it offers our sales people based on their deals. The fact that I haven't sold any products (because I am a developer, not a salesperson), is strictly due to my inability to sell and lack of experience in the field, and ergo a disability. I am sure that if I had the same charisma, training, and experience as my counterparts in the sales department, I would be making the same sales, therefore I deserve the compensation I have been deprived of all these years due to my disability.



  3. dan

    Re: a slippery slope

    granting "disability" status for dyslexia is not a slippery slope. It is a simple fact that dyslexia creates a disadvantage when it comes to written exams - it has little to do with how well he scores on a test, and more to do with whether he has enough time to read the questions and write the answers...

    more at issues should be the use of the broad category that is dyslexia. A person can be considered dyslexic because they have a difficult time reading, writting, or even typing... and each of these areas should receive appropriate treatment and accomodations which should vary by situation. Personally, I have trouble with reading, and I will consistently do poorly on a multiple choice exam while obtaining near perfect scores on a written (though not essay) exams of the same subject.

  4. Ian Ferguson

    Re: A slippery slope

    DZ-Jay: No, that's not the same. Dyslexia is a disability; you being stupid is not. You chose not to have training and experience; this guy cannot do anything about his dyslexia.

    (btw, I hope you're really called DZ-Jay, it must be embarrassing)

    Anon (state of disabilities): Generally UK employers are extremely good about disabilities. I'm pretty amazed that this case got so far. Dyslexia is widely accepted, and extra time in exams is always given (in the education system, anyway) to dyslexics.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Being stupid most definitely is a disability

    However, you can't compensate for stupidity by giving people extra time.

    As I understand it, the point of the legislation is to prevent discrimination that is unnecessary and socially harmful. Some forms of discrimination are necessary and useful, e.g. discriminating against people who are not good at the job.

    If someone who is good at their job is barred from promotion because of an examination system that discriminates against them because of their lack of skill at something that is not required for the job, that's a bad situation, regardless of whether the person had any choice in lacking that skill.

  6. Tim

    Glass ceiling

    "because of the effects of his dyslexia, he would in practice face a glass ceiling..."

    If a person has a disability such as Dyslexia why should they be given extra time for an exam designed to pick up how well they would perform the tasks in their new job?

    I'm a fan of the laws when they protect discrimination, such as not hiring someone in a wheel chair to answer the phone when being in the wheel chair does not affect the job, that’s a positive step.

    I don't however see how giving a dyslexic longer in a test is any advantage if reading and writing are going to be part of their future job, shouldn't they have to perform these well to qualify?

    For a qualification such as a degree where the knowledge of the subject is being examined then extra time is again a positive step, as the material is examined.

    But if you sit two people down for an job interview for a job which requires reading and writing skills, giving a dyslexic extra time to perform the same task is a bias towards them which seems to serve no purpose, and if the extra time gives that applicant a better score and his job performance is worse (it is quite possible the dyslexia won't affect his/her performance that much, but then why would they need extra time in that case) then the employer is forced to hire the worse candidate.

    The use of the anti discrimination laws should be done with the context in mind.

  7. Craig

    Going too far...

    If the day-to-day job required a certain amount of reading and writing, then he should NOT have been given extra time. That could result in the lower qualified candidate being awarded the job. The fact that he is dyslexic is a definite disadvantage to a job that requires writing. (and from what I understand, the police force DOES require massive amounts of report filling etc)

    Would you give the same extra time to the applicant who had a terrible childhood / parents / teachers through no fault of his own, and as a result was generally slow at reading / writing?

    Anti-discrimination policies are fine until they start undermining the fact that humanity thrives on competition. Interviews are supposed to reveal the BEST candidate and discrimination laws are interfering with that fundamental process.

  8. Chris Goodchild Silver badge

    Number blind?

    I am curious to know if numerical dyslexia is a recognised condition? as I have always had a problem with maths. Basic arithmetic, written or mental I have managed to teach myself but real maths takes much more effort ( especially tax returns and and VAT) and I think I should be allowed more time.

  9. dan

    Re: Going too far... & Re: Number blind?

    Craig - in a job that requires reading and writing in addition to other skills, the dyslexia may limit the individual as they start finishing reports and paperwork late... often times an individual with a disability will work longer hours to compensate for this problem, and in an environment were deadlines are in hours and not minutes, this is not a problem.

    A promotion exam is intended to measure knowledge... an individual with reading or writing dyslexia will have less time to think about each question, as they will take longer to read each question or write their response.

    If an individual with dyslexia is promoted and is unable to handle the necessary paperwork required for their job, they should not (and in most cases, will note) receive assistance in performing their job... this is the point where it is self limiting and the law stops.


    "Would you give the same extra time to the applicant who had a terrible childhood / parents / teachers through no fault of his own, and as a result was generally slow at reading / writing?"

    you are confusing education with disability... to equate dyslexia or any other learning disability with poor teaching or a trait of a 'dumb' individual is a prejudice that prevent many individuals from ever taking advantage of disability benefits available to them.



    the term for 'numerical dyslexia' is dyscalculia. Depending on your location and severity of condition, extra time on math exams may not be provided when a calculator is permited.

  10. Craig

    re: re: going too far..

    Im not confusing anything thanks:

    Dyslexia causes varying degrees of reading / writing disability. No fault of the sufferer, its a genetic condition and he/she may be a genius but has difficulty in communicating such skills.

    A "dumb" individual can be caused by many factors: genetic, upbringing, education, physical injury etc.etc Likewise, its no fault of the sufferer, he/she may be a genius but has difficult realizing their potential because they lack the tools (ie. knowledge) to apply themselves to practical applications.

    Don't confuse knowledge with intelligence, what may seem to be a "dumb" person may have a huge IQ. The same goes for many people with mental disabilities, written off as lazy or stupid when infact they are anything but.

  11. Adam

    What about...

    I once heard an immortal line on "Last of the Summer Wine": "In my day, dyslexia hadn't been invented, I was just slow!". Which makes me think, once upon a time dyslexia wasn't recognised. Is it possible that other problems will be identified and named over time? What will happen then? I can't mitigate my rubbish memory by having extra time in the exam, so to make it "fair", I should be allowed to take textbooks into an exam.

    I give it a year before a legally-blind officer takes the police to a tribunal for refusing him a pursuit-driving course.

    As an aside, here we have an increasing number of people with a disability, judging by the number of cars I see being parked in disabled spaces. The disability doesn't impede locomotion, and I believe it is called "Uglychaveycitis".

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