No duty to make reasonable adjustments for an employee associated with a disabled person

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Is an employer obliged to make reasonable adjustments in respect of an employee who is not herself disabled, but who has caring responsibilities for (in other words, is associated with) a disabled person? The EAT has recently ruled that no such obligation exists (Hainsworth v Ministry of Defence).

The claimant was not herself disabled, but her 17-year-old daughter had Down’s syndrome. The claimant’s daughter wished to undertake training that could not be undertaken in Germany, where the claimant was based. The claimant, therefore, sought to move her place of work from Germany to a different country where such training could be carried out. The Ministry of Defence refused the claimant’s application.

The claimant brought claims against the Ministry of Defence, including that of associative disability discrimination. She claimed that the Ministry of Defence had failed to make reasonable adjustments by not changing her work location, where such a change would have enabled her to cater for her disabled daughter’s needs…

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