Disability Discrimination at Work Claims

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Our Employment Law Solicitors can help you if you’ve suffered from discrimination at work because of a disability.

From the outset we’ll tell you about all the options available for funding your claim to ensure you have all the tools to make an informed decision on which option suits you best.

We can handle all stages of the claim for you, giving you the confidence that our expert help and support will minimise the pressure on you when making a disability discrimination claim against your employer. Our approach is open, honest and our advice is free from legal jargon.

For initial legal advice get in touch with our Employment Law Solicitors.

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More Information on Disability Discrimination at Work

The Equality Act 2010 says that it is unlawful for individuals to be discriminated against due to a disability.

The protection under The Equality Act 2010 extends to cover the recruitment process and protects job applicants against disability discrimination before they are actually employed by a company.

In some circumstances you may also have a claim for disability discrimination against your ex-employer after your employment has ended.

Nobody should tolerate being discriminated against on the grounds of their disability. Please reach out to our expert team of Employment Solicitors if you feel you are a victim of disability discrimination.

What is the Definition of a Disability?

The Equality Act 2010 defines a disability as:

A physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. The physical or mental condition you suffer from, the length of time you have suffered from that condition and the impact the condition has on your ability to carry out daily tasks is what is considered when looking at whether you have a disability for the purposes of The Equality Act.

Some medical conditions are automatically treated as satisfying the legal definition of a disability. These include conditions such as cancer and HIV.

We understand that the law can be complicated and think it would be helpful to explain the legal definition of a disability in more detail. This could help you decide whether you have a condition which amounts to a disability.

When looking at the legal definition of a disability, the word ‘Substantial’ means more than minor or trivial. You will need to show the extent of your difficulty completing a normal everyday task, such as getting dressed in the morning, in order to help you evidence that the impact your condition has on you is substantial.

The words ‘Long Term’ can include recurring health conditions, but generally means conditions which have lasted at least 12 months, are likely to last at least 12 months or are likely to last for the rest of your life.

The key thing to note with the words ‘adverse impact’ is that it’s the adverse impact on your ability to carry out day-to-day activities which is considered when establishing whether you have a disability, not necessarily the impact upon your ability to carry out your work.

In disability discrimination claims where the employer does not accept that you have a disability, you may be required to provide a statement setting out the impacts your condition has on you. This is why it is important for you to make a note of all the ways in which your condition causes you difficulty in your daily life. Remember to provide all the relevant information to your Employment Solicitor when discussing your case.

Types of Disability Discrimination at Work Claims

The types of disability discrimination claims against an employer are:

  1. Direct discrimination

    When you are treated less favourably than others because of your disability.

  2. Indirect discrimination

    Where your employer has a policy, procedure or practice which applies to all employees but places you at a particular disadvantage because of your disability. This could be a policy relating to employees having to work on the top floor of an office building which does not have a lift. This requirement may have no impact on an able bodied employees but would have a negative impact on those who have mobility restrictions due to a disability.

  3. Harassment

    Where you are subjected to unwanted conduct e.g. intimidated or degraded by someone at work and that unwanted conduct is related to your disability. The unwanted conduct must have the purpose or effect of violating your dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for you. This could be name calling by a colleague due to your disability. 

  4. Discrimination arising from a disability

    When you are treated unfavourably because of a reason connected to your disability, rather than the disability itself. This could be if you miss out on an opportunity to be paid a bonus because of absence levels, caused by medical appointments linked to your disability.

  5. A failure to make reasonable adjustments

    It is discriminatory when a provision, policy or practice is applied by your employer, or a physical feature of their premises exists, which puts people with a disability at a substantial disadvantage. This could be a failure to provide an aid such as audio assistance to an employee who has a visual impairment when requiring employees to carry out an online training task.

  6. Victimisation

    When you are treated less favourably because of being involved in or making a complaint about disability discrimination. This could be where your employer dismisses you as a result of providing a statement in support of a colleague who has been subjected to disability discrimination.

You do not need to have worked for a company for a minimum period of time before you can bring a claim for disability discrimination claim. You are eligible to bring a claim against your employer even if you have only been employed for a very short period of time.

Reasonable Adjustments at Work

You can make a disability discrimination claim against your employer if they fail to make reasonable adjustments to prevent or reduce the disadvantage you are suffering at work relating to your disability.

The adjustment you ask for could be a relatively simple change such as providing you with a specific type of keyboard or chair or it may involve a greater degree of change such as changing your workplace location. Whatever the change, it is crucial that you are clear in expressing your needs when making your request for reasonable adjustments.

When making a request for reasonable adjustments, you should set out why you believe you need the adjustment and explain how the adjustment would reduce the impact your disability has on your ability at work.

The key word here is ‘reasonable’. If you bring a claim against your employer because they have failed to make reasonable adjustments for you, one of the important points for an employment tribunal to consider, will be whether your request was reasonable. What is reasonable will differ from case to case and there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to reasonable adjustments.

Making a Disability Discrimination Claim

If you have been unable to resolve matters directly with your employer and you decide to bring a claim to an employment tribunal, you can make a claim against your employer for disability discrimination whilst you are still employed. You don’t need to wait until you leave or are dismissed.

There are strict time limits for disability discrimination claims. You must submit your claim to an employment tribunal within three months less one day from the date of the discriminatory act or the last act in a series of discriminatory acts. Understanding the rules around time limits can be difficult in discrimination claims especially where there has been more than one incident of discrimination or where the discrimination is ongoing. Getting expert legal advice from an Employment Law Solicitor as early as possible is essential to ensure you take action in time.

Before starting a disability discrimination claim you will need to complete the early conciliation process with Acas. The early conciliation process is designed to give you and the employer the chance to try and reach an agreement before you submit an Employment Tribunal claim.

If you do bring a disability discrimination claim to an employment tribunal and win your claim, you could be awarded compensation for financial losses caused by the discrimination such as loss of earnings (if applicable). You may also be awarded a sum of money as compensation for the distress and upset the discrimination has caused you, this is known as an injury to feelings award. The amount you are awarded for injury to feelings will depend on the severity of the impact and the tribunal will use guidelines known as Vento bands.  

Simpson Millar’s team of Employment Solicitors have years of experience advising on disability related cases and will explain the complex rules around disability discrimination claims to ensure you understand your position.

Speak to one of our experienced Employment Law Solicitors today and protect your rights.

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