A man with dyslexia was declined admission to the Police College and training for failing a standardised typing test three times. The applicant brought a claim in the Human Rights Review Tribunal (HRRT) on the grounds of discrimination and breach of privacy.

In assessing the privacy claims, the HRRT treated the Police as an employer. The applicant argued that the Police collected his personal information regarding his dyslexia for an unlawful and unnecessary purpose, and that he was not made aware that the information would be used to decline his application. The HRRT decided that no breach of privacy occurred because the Police were able to determine that typing is a necessary skill for cadets and it was necessary to collect information about the applicant’s dyslexia to carry out their functions as a prospective employer. The HRRT noted that it was the failed test, not the information that the applicant had dyslexia that was used to decline the applicant’s admission.

The applicant also argued that he was unlawfully discriminated against because of his disability even though he was “qualified” because he did not need formal education to make an application. The HRRT held that where there is no industry or occupational regulation of what it means to be qualified, the employer determines what requirements and qualifications are needed. On the evidence, being able to type accurately was a key skill for Police trainees. In light of that, failing the test meant the applicant was not qualified so discrimination could not arise.

It pays to get advice from a professional experienced in the area, to understand what you can assess as an employer during recruitment, to minimise claims of privacy breaches and discrimination.


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Alan Knowsley