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8 February 2013
Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT)
Langstaff J, President
To decide if a person is disabled, one looks at the effects of an impairment, not its causes. Impairments do not need to be categorized as one or other of ‘mental' and ‘physical' - they could be a mixture of the two.
W suffered from a long list of symptoms, including diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue, hearing loss, anxiety and depression. An occupational health specialist concluded that there was no pathological or physical cause and a significant part was played by a ‘functional/behavioural component', accentuated by obesity. A tribunal concluded that, since there was no mental illness or physical condition causing these symptoms, he was not disabled.
That was the wrong approach, the EAT said. Nobody had doubted the genuineness of the symptoms. One did not need to establish a cause or categorise it as ‘mental' or ‘physical'. The effects showed that he was substantially impaired. It did not matter that no physical or organic cause of the symptoms.
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