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Paranoid delusions are not a disability

In the recent case of Sullivan v Bury Street Capital Ltd, the EAT had to decide whether paranoid delusions could amount to a disability.

On the facts, the tribunal decided they could not. Key to their decision was the finding that the effects of paranoid delusions experienced by the Claimant were not long term, even though they occurred in 2013 and subsequently reoccurred in 2017. Although the Claimant was dismissed in 2017, the tribunal relied on facts established in 2013, primarily that the effects of his delusions only lasted 4 months.

The tribunal concluded that they did not last longer than 12 months and/or were not likely to return. The Claimant appealed, but the EAT rejected the appeal agreeing that the tribunal was entitled to rely on the facts from 2013.

EAT had to decide whether paranoid delusions could amount to a disability.

In any event the EAT held that even if the effects caused by the paranoid delusions were a disability, the employer would not have had the requisite knowledge of the effects experienced by the Claimant. An employee who worked closely with the Claimant gave evidence confirming he did not notice any of the effects when they worked together.

This case is very fact specific. It does not flow with the rest of the case law on long term effect. However, it does provide useful clarification on disability discrimination and, in particular, knowledge.

Except for indirect disability, knowledge is required for disability claims, and employers should seek advice from the outset to reduce the risk of claims.

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This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

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