Lords decision increases disabled rights

The House of Lords last week strengthened employment rights for the disabled in a landmark ruling.

The Lords decided that employers must make reasonable adjustments, including transfer to another vacant post, if a person becomes unable to carry out their jobs due to disability.

Susan Archibald was a road sweeper for Fife Council between May 1997 and March 2001, when complications following an operation in 1999 left her unable to walk. Before her dismissal on grounds of capability, she applied unsuccessfully for more than 100 administrative positions.

Archibald claimed that the council failed to comply with a duty to make a reasonable adjustment under Section 6 of the Disability Discrimination Act.

She was represented by Lynn Welsh, the Disability Rights Commission’s head of Scottish legal affairs, who instructed Robin Allen QC of Cloisters Chambers and Fountain Court’s Brian Napier QC.

Welsh said: “This decision clarifies completely that an employer has to consider a transfer to another position, and should assist people to stay in employment.”