Multiple-Choice Test Constituted Indirect Disability Discrimination

The case of Government Legal Service (GLS) v Brooks considered whether it constituted indirect disability discrimination to require job applicants to sit a multiple-choice test at the first stage of a recruitment process. The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), agreeing with the Tribunal, decided that this did constitute indirect disability discrimination. Furthermore, GLS’s refusal to allow answers in a narrative form rather than choosing from multiple choice options was a failure in its duty to make reasonable adjustments.

The Claimant, Ms Brooks, suffered from Asperger’s syndrome. She applied for a job as a trainee solicitor with GLS. At the first stage in the recruitment process, applicants are required to sit a multiple choice test. The Claimant contacted GLS in advance of sitting the test and asked for her to be allowed to submit her answers to the questions in a short narrative form. GLS refused. Ms Brooks sat the test and received a score of 12/22, the pass mark being 14. She brought a claim in the employment tribunal, claiming indirect disability discrimination and a failure to comply with the duty to make reasonable adjustments.

The Tribunal concluded that GLS had in fact applied a provision, criterion or practice of requiring its applicants to pass an online multiple-choice test. Furthermore, the PCP placed people with Asperger’s syndrome at a particular disadvantage. Ms Brooks had been put at a disadvantage. GLS’s argument regarding justification failed. Furthermore, the Tribunal considered that the adjustments requested by Ms Brooks were reasonable and that GLS had failed in its duty towards her in this regard. The EAT upheld the Tribunal’s finding.

This case highlights the importance of considering appropriate selection methods at interview stage and dealing with any concerns raised by potential applicants in this regard.