Ms Wickers, an optical assistant at Specsavers, received some formal and informal warnings for failure to comply with the employer’s absence notification procedure, lateness and a dispensing error. She became tearful during her appraisal with a director and he advised that she should see her GP. Ms Wickers later told the director that she was struggling with depression and he responded by saying that he had no sympathy for “this kind of thing”. The director went on to say that “everyone gets depressed sometimes, you just have to pull yourself together”.

Following a number of periods of absence and another dispensing error, Ms Wickers was again late for work and the director decided to go “straight to disciplinary action”. This was despite Ms Wickers telling him that she was on medication and had been diagnosed with depression. Ms Wickers resigned after being told that she was likely to be dismissed. Ms Wickers brought successful claims for disability discrimination in the Employment Tribunal.

The Tribunal held that the director’s unsympathetic approach to the claimant’s condition led to discrimination arising from disability under the Equality Act 2010. Ms Wickers had been late on the day in question because she had overslept due to her medication and the effect of the medication on her sleep was something arising from her disability. The Employment Tribunal also upheld her claims for failure to make reasonable adjustments and harassment.

“Everyone gets depressed sometimes, you just have to pull yourself together” was discrimination arising from disability