AECOM Ltd v Mallon: EAT Emphasises Discrimination Risks in Recruitment Process

Wed 4th Oct 2023

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in AECOM Ltd v Mallon [2023] has upheld the employment tribunal's decision, affirming that an employer had an obligation to make reasonable adjustments to a job applicant with dyspraxia. This duty arose due to the company's requirement for job seekers to create online profiles and complete digital application forms, which put the applicant at a significant disadvantage.

Despite the applicant's request to provide an oral application due to his disability, he did not respond to the employer's repeated email requests to clarify his challenges with the online process. The EAT deliberated on two potential explanations for this lack of response: either the applicant intended to obstruct the process to generate grounds for a disability discrimination claim, suggesting insincere intent, or he genuinely struggled with written communication.

Having established the applicant's genuine intent, the tribunal determined that despite his failure to engage with its enquiries, the employer should have recognised the difficulties caused by his dyspraxia in accessing the online application. In such cases, a reasonable employer would have considered his dyspraxia diagnosis and inability to respond in writing to reasonable queries, and therefore opted to contact the applicant by phone. Given his documented difficulty with written communication, his decision not to elaborate via email was deemed reasonable under the circumstances.

This case should serve as a reminder to employers to take a reasonable and pragmatic approach when dealing with applicants at every stage of the recruitment process.

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