Disability did not form part of decision not to reinstate

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Disability did not form part of decision not to reinstate

There was no discrimination on the grounds of disability when an employer failed to inform an employment review body about an employee’s disability.

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Key point: There was no discrimination on the grounds of disability when an employer failed to inform an employment review body about an employee’s disability.

The decision of the employer had been legitimately based on grounds other than her disability.

Detail: A Full Court of the Federal Court heard that the police officer left work and did not return following a disagreement over an operational decision with senior officers of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in Adelaide. She subsequently developed a depressive disorder.

The full court dismissed the appeal by the officer who claimed she was discriminated against when a review panel failed to take her depressive condition into account when considering her reinstatement.

Federal Magistrate Driver had rejected the officer's claims of unlawful discrimination in relation to her conditions of employment and the AFP's refusal to re-employ her.

The full court stated that although the magistrate clearly considered that the AFP did not act as it did ‘because of [the appellant’s] disability’, but for other reasons.

The police officer's counsel did not specifically challenge this finding. The thrust of the officer's argument was that the AFP had refused to act on medical reports supplied by or on behalf of the officer to AFP management.

As the magistrate found, the AFP acted in the way it did, for three reasons: it wanted to give the officer time to consider her position; it was distracted by the officer's various grievances and complaints; and the AFP in Adelaide, acting on its understanding of Comcare’s advice, did not believe that the officer had a serious disability.

The appeal was dismissed.

See: Forbes v Australian Federal Police (Commonwealth of Australia) [2004] FCAFC 95 (5 May 2004).

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