Discrimination Against Disability

Life With Disability

People in the UK with disabilities today face equality issues not just in the workplace, but also in day to day character assassinations of disabled people as ‘helpless, pathetic and fraudsters.’

Disability Discrimination At Work

It is against the law for an employer:

  • To harass you if you are disabled, for example, by making jokes about your disability
  • Not to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace to enable you to work or to continue to work.
  • To treat you less favorably because of your disability - including recruitment and selection, terms and conditions, dismissal and redundancy.
  • To discriminate directly against you if you are disabled or because you are associated with someone who is disabled, for example, your partner or child.
  • To victimize you if you take legal action because of discrimination against you, or if you help someone else to take legal action because of discrimination.

Examples Of Discrimination

1) A blind woman is not short-listed for a job involving computers because the employer wrongly assumes that blind people can not use them. The employer makes no attempt to look at the individuals circumstances. The employer has treated the woman less favorably than the other people by not short-listing her for the job. The treatment was on the ground of the woman's disability (because such assumptions would not have been made about a non-disabled person) and is likely to be direct discrimination.

2) For a disabled employee, the duty to make reasonable adjustments may extend to permitting additional or alternative representation at performance review meetings or disciplinary hearings by someone outside the prescribed categories, for example a support worker or family member experienced in managing the worker’s disability. The Court of Appeal considered this issue in Cave V Goodwin.

A Few Facts About Discrimination

Disabled people are significantly more likely to experience unfair treatment at work than non-disabled people. In 2008, 19% of disabled people experienced unfair treatment at work compared to 13% of non-disabled people.

Around a third of disabled people experience difficulties related to their impairment in accessing public, commercial and leisure goods and services.

In 2012, 46.3% of working-age disabled people are in employment compared to 76.4% of working-age non-disabled people. There is therefore a 30.1 percentage point gap between disabled and non-disabled people, representing over 2 million people.