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Disability Discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 >> covers all forms of discrimination in the workplace, including selection for a job, training, promotion, work practices, dismissal or any other disadvantage such as harassment because of a ‘Protected Characteristic’.

The Equality Act 2010 >> prohibits discrimination because of a Protected Characteristic. Disability is one of the Protected Characteristics.

What is Disability Discrimination?

Disability discrimination occurs when someone is treated in a certain way either because of, or for a reason related to disability. To qualify as disabled, a person must show that they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities.

In order for an impairment to be long term it must have lasted for at least 12 months, be likely to last at least 12 months or be likely to last for the rest of the person’s life.

People do not generally lose their right to protection under the Act because they have been able to control or correct their disability through the use of aids or medical treatment.

The Act also covers people who have had a disability in the past as well as people with progressive conditions and anyone deemed to have a disability including those with cancer or certain types of disfigurement.

Who is protected?

The Act covers all employment and applies to apprentices, employees and the self-employed working under a contract personally to do work. Ex-employees can also in some circumstances make a claim against a former employer.

Who is liable?

The employer is generally liable for acts of discrimination; however, individual employees may also be liable.

Exceptions: When disability discrimination may be lawful

In some exceptional circumstances discrimination can be lawful. There might be legitimate occupational requirements and positive action.

Bringing a Claim

If you feel you have been discriminated against, you can bring a claim to an Employment Tribunal. Claims must be brought within three months (less one day) of the act complained of subject to any extension of time granted by correct use of ACAS Early Conciliation >>.

Where discrimination has occurred over a period of time then the claim must be brought within three months (less one day) of the last act in a series of interconnected, linked acts subject to any extension of time granted by correct use of ACAS Early Conciliation >>.

It’s important in most cases for Claimants to submit a written grievance to their employer complaining of the discrimination. A failure to do so could result in any compensation being reduced by up to 25%.

Where a Tribunal finds that a claim is well founded, it can order the employer to pay compensation for financial losses and injury to feelings. The Tribunal can also make a recommendation that the employer takes specified steps within a specified time to remove or reduce the adverse effects of the discrimination on the Claimant.

How do I prove my case?

Establishing that discrimination occurred is not straightforward. Sufficient evidence must be provided to enable a Tribunal to conclude it is more likely than not that an employer discriminated against the worker.

There will need to be some factual basis upon which the Tribunal can make its findings. It therefore helps if the claimant can produce any relevant letters or documents. It is useful if the employee makes a note of the key incidents and the dates on which they took place.

If you feel that you may have been discriminated against, please contact our specialist employment solicitors for a confidential and no obligation discussion on 0203 669 2216 or email


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