Disability Discrimination In The Workplace
If you’re experiencing disability discrimination at work, you might be feeling isolated, bullied or less valuable than your peers. Sadly, people who have an impairment are significantly more likely to experience unfair treatment or ‘disabled discrimination’ at work than non-disabled people1, which is why it’s important to recognise when it’s time to seek legal advice.
In the UK, nearly 1 in 5 people have a disability2, however many employers still fail to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the needs of these workers – something that is legally required of them. In addition, many victims of disability discrimination report being given fewer responsibilities (17%), not being promoted (11%), and being refused a job (8%)3.
Discrimination against disabled people is unlawful; if you’re working with an impairment, you should not be deprived of opportunities or made to feel uncomfortable, singled out or inferior. If you’re experiencing any of the above or any other breach of your disability rights, we recommend reaching out to our specialised team of disability discrimination lawyers.
What is Disability Discrimination?
Disability discrimination is the act of treating someone unfairly because of a physical or mental impairment which has a substantially adverse and long-term effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
There are any number of ways an employer can discriminate against an employee who has a long-term medical condition which amounts to a disability under the Equality Act 2010:
- Disability harassment – offensive, degrading and/or humiliating behaviour towards a disabled person
- Failure to make reasonable adjustments – not modifying working conditions to enable the disabled employee to work or continue to work accordingly
- Disability victimisation – treating an employee unfairly for speaking openly or making a complaint about disability discrimination
- Direct disability discrimination – treating a disabled person less favourably than someone who is not disabled
- Indirect disability discrimination – where a policy, criterion or practice in the workplace unfairly disadvantages a disabled person
- Discrimination arising in consequence of disability – also known as Section 15 discrimination, which is where there is any link between disability and unfavourable treatment
Examples of Disability Discrimination
The most common form of disability discrimination in the workplace is failure by an employer to make reasonable adjustments for a disabled employee – this is something that the law requires them to do. This might include (but is not limited to) not modifying equipment, training materials, hours of work, or a worker’s duties, within reason, to assist a disabled employee in their ability to work.
Direct disability discrimination in the workplace might include denying a disabled employee a promotion opportunity on the basis that they are not “up to the job”.
Indirect disability discrimination in the workplace might include an employer only offering promotions to those who have a driving licence and are able to drive, even though this is not a key requirement of the job. This might discriminate against a disabled person who is unable to drive.
Disability victimisation might include an employer treating an employee unfairly for speaking up about disability discrimination against their co-worker.
Some conditions are automatically treated as a disability under the Equality Act 2010. They are cancer, HIV and MS. If you’re facing disability discrimination and have one of these conditions, you automatically have greater employment protections and may be able to make a legal claim.
If you don’t have one of these conditions but feel you are facing disability discrimination at work, it is still possible to make a claim, but you will have to show you have a disability which meets the definition given in the Act (please refer to our “What is Disability Discrimination?” section).
For more information about protected conditions, request to speak to one of our disability discrimination lawyers or call us at 020 7099 7508.
You Are Protected Against Disability Discrimination
It’s unlawful for an employer to treat a disabled employee less favourably because they are disabled. If you have a long-term health condition and things aren’t great for you at work, you may have legal grounds to take action.
We understand that you may be nervous about contacting disability lawyers – this is quite a normal concern. When you speak to our team at didlaw, there is no obligation to pursue legal action. Our goal is to give you a realistic assessment of your situation and advise you on your disability rights – we do not take on cases we cannot resolve.
Testimonials from Past Clients
I have referred a number of my patients to didlaw. They have found either initial advice or ongoing management of their legal problems extremely helpful. Sound, empathetic help particularly at a time of crisis is very therapeutic.”
– NC, Roehampton
I cannot recommend Karen highly enough. Her integrity, kindness and professionalism throughout my dispute were invaluable. Without Karen’s support I would have been forced to return to an untenable situation or slope off (as so very many people do) with my tail between my legs. Karen’s support gave me the strength to do the right thing! She kept me informed every step of the way what she thought my chances were while she dealt with my very difficult employer. I always felt that she believed in my case and was definitely on my side. I never once felt she was in this for the money. She has a real passion for the underdog and a keen legal mind. She actually achieved the impossible in my case – a 900% increase in settlement from original offer.”
– CW, London
At didlaw, we’re proud to be the leading disability lawyers in the UK fighting discrimination against disabled people in the workplace.
Facing up to disability discrimination at work alone can be a difficult, sometimes devastating task. So, we’ve made it our job to guide our clients through every step of a disability discrimination case, and achieve an outcome that gets things back to normal as quickly as possible.
As specialist disability discrimination lawyers, we support those who are most vulnerable in their hour of need. If you think you’re suffering disabled discrimination, or disability discrimination at the hands of your employer, we can help.
Disability Discrimination References
1. Scope, 2014. New research: Parents of disabled children ‘frustrated’ ‘stressed’ and ‘exhausted’ by battle for support, (online), available at: http://www.scope.org.uk/ media/press-releases/sept-2014/parentsdisabled-children-battle-support?gclid=CM uJsrmKrMECFUsCwwodAXMAYQ
2. Department for Work and Pensions, July 2014, Family Resources Survey 2012/13, (online), available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/325491/familyresources-survey-statistics-2012-2013.pdf
3. Office for Disability Issues, 2011, ODI Life Opportunities Survey Wave One results, p169, (online), available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/life-opportunities-survey-wave-one-results-2009-to-2011