Recruitment test discriminated against candidate with Asperger's

A special psychometric test discriminated against a job applicant with Asperger’s Syndrome because it put her at a disadvantage to other candidates.

That was the decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in the case of Ms Terri Brookes who applied for a job with the Government Legal Service (GLS).

The recruitment process was described as “fiendishly difficult” by the EAT and involved a multiple choice Situational Judgment Test.

The EAT was told that the test was efficient in the sense that there are objectively right or wrong answers to each question, which means marking can be done by a computer without human intervention or judgment.

Ms Brookes argued that because of her Asperger's, she was unlawfully disadvantaged by the multiple choice method of testing and that the GLS should have granted her request to be allowed to answer the questions in the form of short narrative written answers.

Her psychiatrist had recommended, when Ms Brookes was at university, that multiple choice questions would not be appropriate for her.

At the first hearing, the Employment Tribunal hearing concluded that the test was a “provision, criterion or practice” (PCP) that put Ms Brookes at a disadvantage. It held that Ms Brookes’ had been subjected to indirect discrimination and that GLS had failed to make reasonable adjustments for her.

The EAT upheld those decisions. It accepted that GLS needed to test the ability of candidates to make effective decisions but there were other ways to do that without the need for multiple choice tests.


Please contact Paul Stevens  on 020 8290 7422 or email if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.

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