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Disability discrimination solicitors

If you believe you have been discriminated against on grounds of disability and you wish to discuss your situation on a confidential basis with our specialist solicitors please complete our online enquiry form or call us on 01616 966 229.

You may be classed as suffering from a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

A qualifying condition can include, (amongst other things), learning disabilities, mental illness, (such as depression and anxiety, schizophrenia or agoraphobia), cancer, aids or HIV infection and impairments which come and go if the actual effect is likely to recur (for example rheumatoid arthritis).

If you suffer from a progressive condition you will be protected from unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act, from the moment that your condition leads to the impairment of your ability to carry out day-to-day activities.

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Day-to-day activities 

Day-to-day activities include consideration of general mobility, ability to lift, carry or move everyday objects, physical co-ordination, eye-sight or hearing, speech, memory, manual dexterity, ability to concentrate, learn or understand, continence or perception of risks.

The effect on your ability to carry out day-to-day activities must be more than trivial and the effects must have lasted or be likely to last at for least 12 months or for the rest of your life. If this is not the case then the condition will not be classed as a “disability” for the purposes of a claim under the Equality Act.

The protection afforded by the Equality Act applies to every stage of the employment relationship i.e. advertising vacancies, recruitment, promotion, training and other opportunities, and dismissal.

This protection also extends to discrimination in the course of an individual’s day to day life as a consumer or service user. Such discrimination can be as a result of a refusal to provide a service to a disabled user or to make reasonable adjustments to their working procedures or policies to enable the individual to engage with the service.

Less favourable treatment can also be experienced directly or indirectly and can take various forms. This can include the making of unpleasant comments towards them in the course of their employment by colleagues or in the course of their day to day lives as consumers or service users.

Such conduct can be considered by the tribunals and the courts as harassment if it is believed that the behaviour has had the effect of violating the individual’s dignity or created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.

Commonly, cases involving disability discrimination include claims for direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, discrimination arising out of disability, failure to make reasonable adjustments, and/or harassment.

Who can be held accountable for disability discrimination?

An employer, public body, service provider or association can be held accountable for the conduct of their employees which gives rise to claims against these businesses or organisations.

If you believe that you have been the victim of discrimination as a result of your disability and would like to speak to a member of our team call us on 01616 966 229 or complete our online enquiry form without delay.

Frequently asked questions

Do I have a disability?

There is no definitive list of conditions which are classed as disabilities under the Equality Act 2010. To be a ‘disabled person’ you must have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long term’ adverse impact on your ability to carry out day-to-day activities.

Does disability discrimination cover mental health conditions?

 Yes – disability discrimination covers conditions such as depression and anxiety, amongst other mental health conditions.

Can an employer refuse to employ me because of my disability?

No – in the majority of cases an employer cannot refuse to employ you on this basis. All reasonable measures must be considered to allow a disabled person to do a job in the same way as a non-disabled person.

There may be circumstances where a disabled person can be prevented from undertaking a particular role where certain health requirements are a condition of employment.

Do I have to inform my employer of my disability?

There is no obligation to inform an employer of your disability. However, the employer is only under a duty to make reasonable adjustments when they are made aware, or are ought reasonably to have been aware of the disability.

Many employers will also ask this information at the outset of a person’s employment to consider making adjustments and because an employer is obligated to look after a person’s health and welfare in the workplace.

What are reasonable adjustments?

You are entitled to reasonable adjustments where you are placed at a substantial disadvantage as a result of your disability by:

  • A provision, criterion or practice applied by your employer – this includes company policies, rules, or one-off decisions made by your employer
  • Physical features of your employer’s premises – this includes the design/construction of the building, exit from and access to the building, furniture and equipment
  • Your employer’s failure to provide an auxiliary aid – such as an interpreter, note takers or screen readers.

Can my employer refuse reasonable adjustments?

A failure to make reasonable adjustments will often be classed as disability discrimination. However, what is considered reasonable is dependent on the factors such as the size of the employer and the finances available. A larger company may be expected to be able to accommodate more adjustments than a smaller company for these reasons.

What are the different forms of discrimination?

There are six main types of discrimination:

  • Direct discrimination – this is where you are treated differently as a result of your disability. An example of this is being dismissed because you are suffering from depression.
  • Indirect discrimination – this is where your employer has a policy or way of working that negatively impacts you because of your disability. An employer can negate this where this is a good reason for the policy and it is proportionate.
  • Failure to make reasonable adjustments – please see earlier FAQs providing more detail on this.
  • Discrimination arising from a disability – this covers unfair treatment for something connected to your disability. An example of this is refusing a bonus for someone who has had to attend medical appointments relating to their disability.
  • Harassment – where you are treated in a way that makes you feel humiliated and degraded as a result of your disability. This includes regularly being called names by colleagues relating to your disability. An employer must show they have done everything they could to prevent the harassment taking place.
  • Victimisation – where you are treated differently for making a complaint of discrimination. This extends to those who report the discrimination who may not necessarily be the subject of the treatment. An example of this is where a colleague supports a discrimination claim and is threatened with dismissal as a result.
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Recently settled disability discrimination claims

  • We acted on behalf of a client in raising a claim for constructive dismissal and disability discrimination claim arising out of a failure to make reasonable adjustments to assist her in the workplace.  We were successful in being able to reinstate an offer that had been withdrawn and increase this offer to the satisfaction of the client. We did all this on a “no win, no fee” basis with the client securing compensation without the worry of paying any fees in advance.

  • We acted on behalf of an employee in respect of a claim for disability discrimination, including a failure to make reasonable adjustments. Due to the nature and extent of the employer’s failings, our client felt their position had become untenable and did not wish to remain in employment. We were instructed under a ‘no win no fee’ agreement to negotiate the client out of their employment under a settlement agreement. In addition to our client’s notice and holiday pay, we were able to negotiate compensation in excess of £17,000 in respect of the disability discrimination our client had been exposed to, and their loss of employment.

  • We were instructed by a client who had already presented claims for disability discrimination and victimisation to an employment tribunal but was finding it difficult to manage the case themselves. The client had been dismissed and had been unable to find work since their dismissal. In these circumstances, we were able to assist the client under a ‘no win no fee’ agreement and negotiated a settlement in excess of £14,000, despite the fact that prior to our instruction, the employer had insisted it did not wish to engage in settlement discussions.

  • We secured compensation for our client after he was subject to disability discrimination when he was prohibited from using a public disabled toilet.

  • Our client was dismissed by her employer due to requiring time off work as a result of her condition, which amounted to a disability. We assisted our client in successfully pursuing a disability discrimination claim against her former employer, which included claims for unfair dismissal and failure to make reasonable adjustments.

  • Our client requested the provision of reasonable adjustments from her employer to enable her to fulfil her duties, which they delayed in doing so. We assisted our client in pursuing a disability discrimination claim and were successful in achieving a significant monetary settlement for the delay and detriment suffered as a result, whilst preserving her continued  employment.

  • Our client was successful in achieving a monetary settlement which provided for a claim for injury to feelings and loss of earnings following a claim for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal.

Discrimination law staff reorder

  • Philip Richardson
  • Maria Chadwick
  • Adam Pennington
  • Rebecca Billinge
  • Stephen Woodhouse
  • Lucy Bishop
  • Kenneth Tang
  • Charlotte Brain
  • Eleanor Adshead
  • Terri Li
  • Abigail Martland