JP Morgan Europe Ltd v Chweidan
This was case bought Mr Chweidan who worked for JP Morgan as an executive director in Structured Credit and Sales. He was paid a bonus from a pool, which depended on the profits of the relevant year.
At the end of March 2007, Mr Chweidan suffered a serious back injury whilst skiing with a client. He was in hospital for two weeks and then worked from home, but with reduced mobility, ability to travel and working hours.
In September 2007, he was proposed a bonus of $400,000 (although in 2006 his bonus was $635,000). In January 2008, it was accepted that Mr Chweidan had a disability. When the bonuses were announced for 2007, he received $450,000 and he was also selected for redundancy in February 2008.
Mr Chweidan brought a grievance in relation to his bonus and alleged that his redundancy selection amounted to age and disability discrimination. He brought an employment tribunal claim for unfair dismissal and age and disability discrimination.
Employment tribunal findings
The employment tribunal found that Mr Chweidan had been unfairly dismissed and had suffered direct discrimination on the grounds of his disability in relation to his bonus and his dismissal. However, claims for disability-related discrimination and age discrimination were dismissed.
JP Morgan appealed to Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT)
The EAT upheld the appeal, holding that, if a claim of disability-related discrimination failed, it is difficult to see how the same allegations could found a successful claim for direct discrimination. The effect of the decision of the House of Lords in Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of Lewisham v Malcolm was that the scope of disability-related discrimination and direct disability discrimination are for practical purposes no different.
The changes to disability discrimination law that came into force under the Equality Act 2010 from 1 October 2010 makes it more likely that employees will be able to bring successful disability claims.
The Equality Act 2010 adds “discrimination arising from a disability” occurs when an employer treats a person unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of his or her disability.
In circumstances such as those in this case, if an employee could show that, for example, he had received a lower bonus due to being unable to work long hours as a result of a disability, that might be discrimination arising from a disability if the treatment was not justified.