Mr Bessell has red-green colour blindness. The combination of grey and pink also causes him difficulty. He brought a disability discrimination claim against his employer, The Chief Constable of Dorset Police. He was unable to show that his impairment met the definition of a disability under the Equality Act 2010.
This issue was whether or not his condition has a “substantial and long term adverse effect on [his] ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”. Mr Bessell argued that his colour blindness affects the normal day-to-day activities of cooking, reading/interpreting documents/text and watching sport. He said that he cannot tell by the colour whether or not meat or fish products were fresh. Forms with grey and pink sections and the colours on subway maps also caused him some difficulty. The coloured balls in snooker also caused Mr Bessell difficulties – unless they were on their spots.
Men are much more likely to be colour blind than women. Up to 8% percent of men with Northern European ancestry have the common form of red-green colour blindness. However, only 0.5% of women are thought to be affected.
The Employment Tribunal pointed out that coping strategies mean that his colour blindness does not substantially affect these activities. He can use smell and texture to determine the freshness of food.
There is “no reason to believe that Mr Bessell would take appreciably longer to get the hang of forms or maps than most people”. Commentary and captioning are normally available when watching sport.
The Employment Tribunal therefore concluded that Mr Bessell’s colour blindness did not have a “substantial and long term adverse effect on [his] ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities” and so his claim of disability discrimination could not proceed.