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Depression does not affect exclusively one part of cognitive functioning

05 July 2019 #Employment


In the recent case of Mr D Wilkinson v Emovis Operations Leeds Ltd: 1809825/2018, the Employment Tribunal did not accept that depression impacts only one part of an individual’s cognitive functioning.

In this case, the employee worked as a customer service representative for Emovis, the Company that enforces “Dart Charge”, the toll-charge in place on the Dartford crossing on behalf of Highways England. The employee’s primary function was responding to queries put to Emovis. Software with the purpose of monitoring customer service responses uncovered that the employee had manually reported 230 extra pieces of work that he had not completed. The employee said that his inaccuracies in reporting had arisen from a lack of concentration and memory arising from his depression. However, the Company’s occupational health department concluded that the employee’s mental health issues were not a ‘direct cause of his inability to accurately record work and figures.’ Thus, the employee was dismissed for Gross Professional Misconduct by falsifying figures.

In the Employment Tribunal (ET), the employee raised the claims of unfair dismissal and disability discrimination. Regarding the allegation of unfair dismissal, it was held that the employee’s manager had genuinely believed the employee to be guilty of misconduct. Despite the employee contesting that the inaccuracies were a result of a lack of concentration and memory, this was not accepted. Firstly, there was no issue with the quality of the employee’s work, which could have been reasonably expected if his concentration had been poor. Secondly, the vast discrepancies between the employee’s record and the automated record was unlikely to be linked to a lapse in memory. Instead, it was contested by the Company that the employee had been dishonest and thus could no longer be trusted.

Regarding the employee’s claim for disability discrimination, the tribunal had to ascertain whether the inaccurate reporting from the employee, which was the reason for the dismissal, arose as a result of his disability. It was not accepted that the employee’s depression only ‘affected once aspect of his cognitive functioning’, namely the memory of the work that he had completed. Furthermore, as the employee had a consistently strong appraisal record, it was held that the inaccuracies were not a result of his depression. Thus, the claim for disability discrimination was dismissed.

This case highlights that it may be difficult for a tribunal to accept that depression has impacted only a specific aspect of an individual’s working capacity as claimed in this case.


Chris Smith 

Paralegal, Clarkslegal LLP

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at employmentunit@clarkslegal.com by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.
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