I am disabled and have felt recently that I am not being given the same treatment as some of my co workers, what counts as discrimination?

Sex and Race Discrimination laws have now existed for a number of years. Employment Laws now exist to combat discrimination on the grounds of disability and those laws apply to all workers even those that are self-employed or agency workers. The law applies to all stages of employment from recruitment, pay, promotion and dismissal. The law prohibits less favourable treatment of disabled persons on the grounds of their disability or reasons relating it.

The legal definition of “disability” covers far more people than most would ordinarily imagine. For example it covers people with back problems and clinical depression to people with MS and types of cancer.

A disability can be either a physical or a mental impairment and to amount to a disability the impairment must have a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. It must affect one of the following: mobility, manual dexterity, coordination, ability to lift, carry or move every day objects, continence, speech, hearing or eye sight, memory or concentration, learn or understand and the perception of the risk of physical danger.

If a worker is a disabled person then an employer discriminates against them if they treat them less favourably than someone without a disability. For example, if an MS sufferer is dismissed after taking 6 month’s absence and another employee without that disability is not dismissed with the same absence record, then the employer would have discriminated against the disabled employee.

If a disabled person is placed at a disadvantage in the workplace then the employer has a duty to make “reasonable adjustments”. The employer may have to make adjustments to their premises, reduce the employee’s hours of work or allocate some of their duties elsewhere. An employer’s failure to do this may amount to disability discrimination.

What can I do now if I believe discrimination has taken place?

A worker does not need any period of service to bring such a complaint although usually action must be taken within 3 months from the date when the discrimination took place. A Tribunal can then award the successful employee unlimited compensation.

If you believe that you have suffered or are suffering from disability discrimination at work and for a free and confidential discussion please telephone Debbie Mactaggart at Jordans Solicitors on 01924 387110.

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