Disability Discrimination at Work

The Equality Acts prohibit discrimination in the workplace against employees who have a disability. The act provides a legal protection for employees who have a disability, and imposes a legal obligation on employers to provide employees with a disability with what is termed Reasonable Accomodation.

What is Discrimination ?

S.6 of the Equality Act(as amended) defines what discrimination in the workplace context is:

A person is treated less favourably than another person is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation on any of the grounds. There are many grounds, but in this post we are taking about the disability ground.

Reasonable Accomodation

Any employee who has a disability must be provided with what is termed reasonable accommodation in respect of their employment in the workplace.

This is a positive and actionable obligation imposed on employers, and an employer must take appropriate measures to facilitate the employee to participate in the employment, ensure access to the employment and not discriminate against the employee by reason of having a disability.

Every employer should review S.16 of the Equality Act 1998(as amended) to understand their obligation regarding providing employees with reasonable accommodation and appropriate measures, who have a disability.  

It will be assessed in any case of this nature, if an employer did take appropriate measures and afford the employee with reasonable accommodation, if an employee would have been fully capable to do the job had the reasonable accomodation been provided.

What are ‘’appropriate measures’’ the employer should have taken will vary from circumstance to circumstance, but appropriate measures can involve simple, practical, cost effective measures at no financial cost to the employer. Appropriate measures can also be things that are a financial burden to the employer, which they will have to assess.

S.16 of the Equality Act 1998(as amended) has been interpreted many times, but in A.H.&F.C. V A.W. the Labour Court interpreted S. 16 of as a ‘’process orientated approach’’.

This placed an obligation on the employer to complete a process of assessing the real implications for the employees ability to do the job, taking expert evidence, consulting with the employee and having an open mind what special treatment or facilities could be adopted to get past any obstacles preventing the employee doing the job.

It is for the employer to assess and decide if there is a disproportionate burden imposed of them by providing the appropriate measures or not.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is discrimination in the workplace? / What would be considered discrimination?

Discrimination is where one person is treated less favourably than another person is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation on any of the grounds referred to the discriminatory grounds. It is must be because of one of the grounds mentioned in the above paragraph.

So, for example, the discrimination must be related to one of the grounds such as disability. If one was treated unfairly at work which was connected with their epilepsy, this would be discrimination contrary to legislation.

What are 3 examples of discrimination?

  1. If a female employee is treated unfairly due to gender;
  2. if an employee with a disability is treated unfairly which is connected to having the disability;
  3. If an employee is treated unfairly due to their race.

What is an example of indirect discrimination?

Indirect discrimination can be insidious but is wholly unacceptable, but a difficultly with it is it can be less clearly visible.

If, for example, people at work are treated the same, but the effect of the treatment on the employee with a disability, for example, is unfair which is based on the protected characteristic.

What is not considered discrimination?

If you were treated unfairly which is not related to one of the specified grounds.

Can you be sacked for having a disability ?

This evidently should not happen and the employee can challenge a employers decision under the Equality Acts for discriminatory dismissal if such an occurence arises. The legislation does not specifically state dyslexia, but the term disability under the legislation has a wide interpretation.

Disclaimer to this Disability Discrimination Claim Article

Please be advised that the above-mentioned material is intended as an overview and as a broad out-line of the topic discussed. It should not be considered as complete and comprehensive legal advice, nor act as an appropriate substitute. Legal advice should be obtained from a solicitor prior to relying on anything in this article.

Due care has been taken in the publication of this article and we do not accept legal liability as a result of reliance on any material covered in the above article.