Dyslexia a disability for police officer, U.K. tribunal rules

Appeal tribunal rules cop’s condition affects his normal, day-to-day duties and therefore is a ground for discrimination

A U.K. tribunal has ruled dyslexia constitutes a disability which should be accommodated in the professional advancement of a policeman.

David Paterson, a police officer in Vauxhall, U.K., joined the police force in 1983. He was promoted to sergeant in 1989 and chief inspector in 1999. In 2004, he found out he had dyslexia.

Despite his previous promotions, Paterson accused the metropolitan police of discriminating against him by not reasonably accommodating his dyslexia in his job and not adjusting to the decision-making process for deciding a promotion to superintendent.

An employment tribunal ruled Paterson’s dyslexia didn’t have a significant negative impact on his regular duties and therefore didn’t qualify as a disability under the U.K.’s Disability Discrimination Act, 1996.

However, Paterson appealed his case to an appeal tribunal and received a more favourable decision.

The appeal tribunal found Paterson’s professional advancement depended upon on sitting examinations and his dyslexia caused him to require up to “25 per cent extra time to do an assessment.” It considered assessments and examinations as normal, day-to-day activities in the police force. His dyslexia also affected his ability to comprehend written materials, which “is itself a normal, day-to-day activity.”

Because the appeal tribunal found Paterson’s condition did affect normal activities of his job, it constituted a disability. With this confirmed, the case was sent back to the employment tribunal for re-evaluation on whether he faced discrimination.

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