Autistic job seeker discriminated against at application stage

Mr Meier had Asperger’s, dyslexia and dyspraxia.

He applied for a job at BT on its graduate programme.

The specification was looking for people with ‘a strong technical mindset and good problem-solving skills … and an analytical approach to (their) work along with a good working knowledge of IP networks and the ability to work on their own and as part of a team’.

Mr Meier was an ideal candidate.

The recruitment process involved several stages including an online application, a skills/psychometric test, a Skype interview, attendance at an assessment centre and an interview.

Mr Meier completed the online application and provided information on his disability.

The next stage was the skills test, but Mr Meier failed this part of the assessment and was rejected.

Mr Meier challenged the decision saying that the skills test was not fair for people with Asperger’s and he asked BT to make reasonable adjustments so that he could progress to the next stage where his skills could be properly tested.

BT rejected his request, despite advice from the designers of the test who recommended they should address adjustments based on Mr Meier’s condition.

BT did nothing and Mr Meier went to Tribunal.

The tribunal heard expert evidence from a clinical psychologist who said that the test put Mr Meier at a significant disadvantage when compared to other candidates without Asperger’s as the test questions could be interpreted as ambiguous, contradictory and requiring judgments to be made on missing information.

Because of his Asperger’s, Mr Meier was not able to ‘read between the lines’ in order to complete the test.

The tribunal said that it would have been reasonable for BT to disregard Mr Meier’s scores in the SSP and to interview him to test whether he met the competencies the job required.

Mr Meier was awarded £12,500 for injury to feelings and £4,538 for loss of earnings.

BT appealed to the Court of Appeal who rejected the appeal.

It said the tribunal was correct to find that BT knew about the disability and that they should have made reasonable adjustments.

The duty to make adjustments is the employer’s responsibility and it applies to all stages of the process.

If you would like to receive the latest employment law updates by email sign up for our monthly newsletter. You can unsuscribe at any time.