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Disability discrimination

Disability discrimination at work

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a disabled person either at work or when they are applying for work.  Someone is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment that has lasted (or is expected to last) at least 12 months, and the impairment has a substantial adverse effect of that person’s ability to carry out day to day activities.  Ultimately it will be for the Employment Tribunal to determine whether or not someone meets this legal definition.

People who are blind or who have severe sight impairments; have severe disfigurements; or have been diagnosed with HIV, cancer or multiple sclerosis are automatically regarded as having a disability. 

Examples of discriminatory conduct include: 

- treating a job applicant or employee less favourably than others because of their disability

- treating a job applicant or employee unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of their disability, e.g. someone is dismissed because of the amount of time off they have had;

 - apply a provision, criterion or practice that disadvantages job applicants or employees with a shared disability without a justifiable reason for doing so;

- fail to comply with its duty to make reasonable adjustments e.g. allow a change in duties or working hours, or to provide an auxiliary aid.

- subjecting a job applicant or employee to harassment related to their disability.

- victimise a job applicant or employee because they have made or intend to make a disability discrimination complaint, or because they have helped someone else in bringing a complaint.

- ask job applicants pre-employment health questions other than for certain (limited) prescribed reasons.

You have 3 months less one day from the date of any failure to make a reasonable adjustment or any act of discrimination (if there is a course of ongoing discrimination, the deadline could be from the last date in that series of events), in which to issue a claim in the Employment Tribunal.  Prior to issuing a claim you need to contact the conciliation service ACAS to commence Early Conciliation (EC). If EC is unsuccessful you will be given a Certificate Number, which you will need to put on the ET claim form you submit to the Tribunal. The actual deadline to commence a claim in the Tribunal will depend on when you start EC and the date the certificate is issued.

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