Discrimination on the basis of disability is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010 (“the Act”). Therefore no employee or worker (including those who are deemed to be self-employed) should be discriminated against because of their disability during the recruitment process, redundancy or dismissal procedures.
If you have been refused employment, offered employment on less favourable terms, denied promotion, training of other benefits, subjected to a detriment, dismissed or subjected to unwanted conduct, and you believe this occurred because of your disability; you may have a claim for disability discrimination.
Who is a disabled person?
To fall under the definition of being a ‘disabled person’ you must prove that you have a physical or mental impairment, and the impairment has a substantial and long term effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
Types of discrimination
- Direct discrimination: This is where someone is treated less favourably and that less favourable treatment is because of their disability, for example where an employer refuses to hire a disabled employee purely because of their disability, unless this is objectively justified i.e. for health and safety reasons.
- Indirect discrimination, this is where an employer imposes a provision, criterion or practice (usually a policy) applicable to everyone, but which causes disadvantage to one group over another, and there is no objective justification for it. An example would be where a telesales company implements a policy that all sales people must go out door to door one day a week. A disabled employee with mobility issues may be put at a disadvantage by not being able to make as much in sales commission as their non-disabled colleagues.
- Failure to make reasonable adjustments, The Act imposes a duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments when a provision, criterion or practice (see above) puts a disabled person at a disadvantage in comparison with persons who are not disabled.
Reasonable adjustments could include physical adjustments to the premises (where applicable), phased returns to work, varied hours and a variation in duties. Failures to make reasonable adjustments would amount to disability discrimination.
- Harassment on grounds of disability, in general terms this is unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating your dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. This can be bullying which is violent or obvious as well as teasing, nicknames, jokes, or other behaviour which is not done with malicious intent but which is upsetting.
- Discrimination arising from disability, for example where a disabled employee is dismissed following prolonged disability related sickness absence.
- Victimisation, this is where a person receives less favourable treatment compared to others because they have either brought (or given evidence in) an Employment Tribunal, or raised a grievance alleging discrimination protected under the Act.
- The Act also provides for ‘vicarious liability’ provisions, making an employer responsible for the acts of their employees.
An employee does not require a qualifying service to bring a claim for disability discrimination.
The time limit for bringing a claim for disability discrimination in the Employment Tribunal (ET) is three months less one day from the date of the last act of discrimination. Extensions of this time limit are only available in exceptional circumstances.
If an employee or worker succeeds in a claim for disability discrimination, the ET has the power to order the payment of compensation. The award would normally comprise of two elements: injury to feelings and loss of earnings.
Further the ET has the jurisdiction to award damages for personal injury and make recommendations that an employer takes specific action, within a specified period.
If you feel you have been discriminated against in the workplace because of your disability, please contact us on 0113 350 4030 or complete the enquiry form for a free telephone consultation. Alternatively, why not drop into one of our free clinics on Wednesday’s from 5:30pm until 7:30pm at our offices.
We will explore all avenues of funding.