Colour Blindness Not a Disability
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An employment tribunal has held that a claimant’s red-green colour blindness is not a disability.
In Bessell v Chief Constable of Dorset Police, Mr Bessell has deuteranopia. In other words, he has red-green colour blindness. He has difficulty distinguishing between red and green, the combination of grey and pink also causes him difficulty. Mr Bessell has no other vision problems. Mr Bessell brought a disability discrimination claim under the Equality Act 2010. He claimed discrimination arising from disability, indirect disability discrimination and failure to make reasonable adjustments. He also brought a claim for indirect sex discrimination.
A preliminary issue before the disability discrimination claim could proceed was whether or not Mr Bessell’s condition constitutes a disability under the Equality Act 2010. The issue turned on whether or not the impairment has a “substantial and long term adverse effect on [his] ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”. This first-instance decision is not binding on other courts and tribunals and there would be nothing to stop a more severe form of colour blindness from being considered a disability.
Since colour blindness primarily affects men, by far the bigger risk for employers is a claim for indirect sex discrimination. Recruitment decisions based on colour blindness must be justifiable (for example, on the grounds of health and safety).
Please get in touch if this issue has been raised in your workplace at [email protected] or call 01386 751740.