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type 2 diabetes ruled not to be a disability

20 March 2015

In Metroline Travel Ltd v S, the EAT has ruled that diet controlled type 2 diabetes does not necessarily constitute a ‘disability’ under the Equality Act 2010 (Act).

S avoided sugary drinks to control his type 2 diabetes. An employment tribunal decided that the condition amounted to a disability. Metroline appealed, and the EAT disagreed with the tribunal. It ruled that the abstention from sugary drinks was not sufficient to constitute a substantial adverse effect on day-to-day activities, which is a crucial aspect of the statutory definition of ‘disability’.

This decision clarifies that employees with diet controlled conditions including type 2 diabetes, and by extension those with nut allergies and other such intolerances, are unlikely to succeed in establishing that they are disabled within the meaning of the Act. It is a common misconception that diabetic employees (both type 1 and type 2) are necessarily disabled – the matter is one of fact and degree.

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