Buxton v Equinox Design Ltd, Court of Appeal - United Kingdom Employment Appeal Tribunal, November 19, 1998, [1998] UKEAT 337_98_1911

Resolution Date:November 19, 1998
Issuing Organization:United Kingdom Employment Appeal Tribunal
Actores:Buxton v Equinox Design Ltd
 
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Appeal No. EAT/337/98

EMPLOYMENT APPEAL TRIBUNAL

58 VICTORIA EMBANKMENT, LONDON EC4Y 0DS

At the Tribunal

On 2 November 1998

Judgment delivered on 19 November 1998

Before

THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE MORISON (PRESIDENT)

MR A C BLYGHTON

MR I EZEKIEL

MR T BUXTON APPELLANT

EQUINOX DESIGN LTD RESPONDENTS

Transcript of Proceedings

JUDGMENT

Revised

EAT/337/98

APPEARANCES

EAT/337/98

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MR JUSTICE MORISON (PRESIDENT): This is an appeal against the unanimous decision of an Industrial Tribunal held at Leeds which awarded the appellant, Mr Buxton, the total sum of £7,627.50. All but £500 of that award was compensation for the unfair dismissal; the £500 was for injury to feelings under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 [The Act].

The facts giving rise to Mr Buxton's claims against his former employers, Equinox Design Limited, may be shortly stated.

The respondents are a medium sized company [60 employees] engaged in the business of making Exhibition stands. The applicant, who was born in 1950, was employed by them from October 1991 until the date of his dismissal in March 1997.

In 1994 the applicant was diagnosed as suffering from Multiple Sclerosis [MS] in 1994. By September of 1995 the applicant was having some difficulty with the more physical aspects of his work as an exhibition craftsman, and lighter duties, in the form of a job of joiner, essentially based in the employers' factory, was found for him. He was required to go to exhibition sites only rarely. In the latter part of 1996, the respondents began to consider whether this situation could continue indefinitely, and they were concerned about his ability to continue at work. Accordingly, they sought guidance from the applicant's consultant as to prognosis. Thereafter a meeting took pace between the applicant and his employers and the outcome, described by the tribunal as surprising, was that the applicant should contact his consultant to clarify his report, which he did.

There was an accident at work in which the applicant suffered a minor injury: a cut thumb whilst operating a band saw. From that time until the effective date of termination, the applicant was on sick leave, the employers having insisted that he take time off work. On 30 January the employers wrote again to the consultant seeking a ``detailed analysis of Mr Buxton's capabilities for their liability insurers.'' Because of another accident not involving the applicant, the employers were the subject of a Health and Safety Executive investigation. The applicant's accident was reported to the Executive by the employers. The Executive noted Mr Buxton's disability and the papers were referred to Dr Gaubert of the Employment Medical Advisory Service [a department of the HSE]. With permission, she reviewed the applicant's medical files and met with the applicant. She wrote to the employers setting out her understanding of the position. It was her conclusion that:

``While Mr Buxton's condition has so far progressed relatively slowly, it is difficult to make accurate predictions about his condition over the next few years. I think it unlikely that his condition will return to normal. Mr Buxton realises that his work rate has slowed and that the time may have come for some decisions to be made about his future. I have suggested that he attend the Jobcentre for advice on -re-training.

I do not think that Mr Buxton's recent...

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