Northern Ireland

Fresh tribunal for discrimination case against Red Sky

A joiner held to have no demonstrated disability despite a history of self-harm and post-traumatic stress should have his case reviewed, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Judges identified an "inherent weakness" in the original decision reached on a claim by Jason Veitch against Red Sky Group Ltd.

They ruled the case should be re-determined by a fresh tribunal.

Mr Veitch already had a constructive unfair dismissal case upheld.

But he also claimed to have suffered discrimination due to his disability and to have been victimised through less favourable treatment because he brought proceedings.

Earlier this year, the tribunal concluded that Mr Veitch had not demonstrated having a disability within the meaning of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

Because of this ruling it was held to be unnecessary to make any findings of fact on his discrimination claims.

Evidence submitted as part of the case revealed how he had a history of self-harm and previously tried to take his own life.

'Inherent weakness'

His GP provided a medical report confirming that he previously suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The tribunal decided that although Mr Veitch displayed symptoms of stress and anxiety, there was insufficient medical information about the long-term effects of the impairment on his normal day to day activities.

His lawyers challenged that finding in the Court of Appeal, arguing that despite it the tribunal had concluded on the balance of probabilities he did have a mental impairment resulting from mental illness.

Ruling on the case, Lord Justice Girvan noted how no findings on the alleged problems were made because of the absence of medical evidence.

He said: "The presence or absence of medical evidence may be a matter of relevance to be taken into consideration in deciding what weight to put on evidence of claimed difficulties causing alleged disability, but its absence does not of itself preclude a finding of fact that a person suffers from an impairment that has substantial long-term adverse effect."

The judge added: "Accordingly, we agree with the parties' contention that there is such an inherent weakness in the tribunal's chain of reasoning that this is a case which should be remitted for re-determination by a fresh tribunal."