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Disability discrimination: know your rights

View profile for Chloe Parish
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Disability discrimination in universities

In today’s society it is considered the norm that those who suffer from a disability are treated with respect and dignity. But are they?

A case in the County Court has seen a gentleman who suffers from autism, win his disability discrimination claim against a multinational company after an employee reportedly branded him ‘stupid’ in front of a number of customers. For many with a disability, this would have been a humiliating and degrading experience, and is not the standard of service that would be expected from a service provider.

Upon complaining to the company about the employee’s behaviour, the service provider failed to take action. The individual therefore commenced proceedings against the company for harassment related to his disability.

The County Court came to the conclusion that the claimant had suffered harassment related to his disability, and awarded him compensation, payment of his legal costs by the company, and ordered the provision of a written apology. It was also recommended that the company amends it’s equality training to staff.

The law

Under the Equality Act 2010, a service provider must not discriminate against a person because they have a disability, they think a person has a disability, or because a person is connected to someone who has a disability.

Would your condition be classified as a disability under the Equality Act?

The answer to this can be found in section 6 of the act, which states that:

  • You must have a physical or mental impairment;
  • That has a substantial and adverse effect on your day to day activities; and
  • It has lasted, or is likely to last, more than 12 months. 

If your condition meets this criteria then it is likely that you would be considered to have a disability for the purpose of making a claim under the Equality Act 2010.

What is disability discrimination?

Discrimination takes place when a person is treated less favourably, or put at a disadvantage, for a reason that relates to their disability. This could be a one-off incident, as in the case discussed above, or this could be the existence of a rule or policy implemented by a service provider which makes it difficult for you to access a service.

What should you do?

If you feel that you have been discriminated against because of your disability, you should immediately raise a complaint.

You may also be able to bring a claim in the County Court for unlawful discrimination under the provisions of the Equality Act 2010. Please be aware that strict time limits apply to claims of this nature, and you only have sixth months less one day from the discriminatory act to bring a claim in the County Court. It is therefore imperative that you seek legal advice without delay.

If you need further advice regarding discrimination law, please contact our team on 01616 966 229.