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What is a Disability and Whom to Consult When Facing Discrimination at Work?

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, now replaced by the Equality Act 2010 is directed towards protecting the rights of the people/professionals with a disability.                    

Disability discrimination is prevalent almost everywhere and more often, the disabled are not aware of their legal rights.

In the United Kingdom alone, majority of workers are treated less favourably because of their disability (either mental or physical.) It is against the law to harass an individual on the basis of a disability.

Therefore, if you are refused certain employment benefits in the workplace even though you are qualified for the job, you can always seek legal intervention.

Disability discrimination can occur in a number of forms – direct, indirect, obvious and non-obvious. Among them, direct discrimination is when you are treated less favourably by the management because of your disability compared to your colleagues without any disability.

On the other hand, indirect discrimination occurs when you are made to abide by a rule or practice that may seem to apply equally to everyone else, but puts you in a less favourable state due to your disability.

Discrimination by association

You can further be a victim to discrimination by association, wherein discrimination happens because of your connection with someone who is disabled.

Here, Employment Law directs organisations to make reasonable adjustments in order to protect the rights of the disabled employees. Therefore, if you feel that you are being victimised or harassed due to a disability, you are legally entitled to take appropriate action.

What Counts As Disability Discrimination At Work?

  • You are treated less favourably than the rest of the employees under the same circumstances.
  • You are made to suffer because you are associated with someone who’s disabled.
  • You are being mocked for your disability.
  • There’s no reasonable adjustments made to help you carry out your job fairly.
  • You are victimised or harassed because of your complaint/legal action you have taken against the employer for treating you or someone unfavourably.

 

Disability discrimination is prevalent almost everywhere and more often, employees with a disability, are not aware of their legal rights. Any disability (whether physical or mental), can have a serious long-term effect on a person’s life. Employment law solicitors are able to help disabled people take a legal action against their employers.

Having said this, in case an employer discriminates against a disabled employee, they need to have a sufficiently good reason. They can only take such a step, if they have not been able to solve the problem by making ‘reasonable adjustments’.

Examples Of Reasonable Adjustments An Employer Can Make?

  • Physical adjustments to the premises;
  • Providing information in an accessible font and format so that if you are visually-impaired, you can still easily carry out your job;
  • Supplying special equipment in order to make the job easier to carry out;
  • Giving some extra time off work to the employee or altering the working hours;
  • Asking necessary questions about the employee’s past and current medical conditions, or requesting them to undergo a medical examination.

Disability discrimination is illegal in any workplace environment, including:

  • Private Employers;
  • Employment Companies;
  • State and Local Government Employers;
  • Labour Organisations;
  • Labour Management Agencies;

Overall, if you feel that you are being subjected to less favourable treatment at the hands of your employer or colleagues, you must never encourage such behaviour. Rather, you could bring it to the notice of your line manager or the employment tribunal.

It is always better to know your employment rights and exercise them wherever necessary. To help, here are some health conditions that classify as a disability under the Equality Act 2010. These include:

  • Cancer
  • HIV
  • Sight or hearing impairment
  • Serious disfigurement excluding piercings or tattoos
  • Progressive illnesses such as Osteoarthritis, Fibromyalgia, and ME
  • Learning difficulties like Dyslexia
  • Chronic health conditions such as heart disease, strokes, and asthma
  • Physical or mental impairment caused due to an injury to body or brain
  • Severe mental conditions like Schizophrenia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD), and Depression.

Basically, any condition that is adversely affecting your lifestyle, is covered by the Equality Act 2010. Furthermore, this directive is also applicable while buying goods, availing services, buying or renting properties and education.

What to do if your employer resists making adjustments after finding out you have a disability?

Any health impairment lasting at least twelve months, may have a long-term effect on you well-being.

In addition, such an impairment is usually progressive and cannot be cured for the remainder of your life. Having said that, if you feel that you are exposed to discriminatory behaviour because of such an impairment, you must immediately inform your employer about it. In addition, you can also seek legal help from a reputable employment law solicitor and make an Employment Tribunal claim