An Overview Of Disability Discrimination Law

In this guide, we aim to explore disability discrimination law and how it protects individuals from discrimination based on disability. For the purpose of this guide, we will be focusing on an employer’s responsibilities to prevent discrimination of a disability. However, others have a responsibility too. 

disability discrimination law
Disability discrimination law

Whilst we have aimed to cover the information you may need, we understand you might still have questions after reading.

If so, fill out the contact form on our website to get in touch with an advisor.

Alternatively, please continue reading for more information about disability discrimination.

Select A Section

  1. What Is A Disability Under Disability Discrimination Law?
  2. What Does The Law Say About Disability Discrimination?
  3. Disability Discrimination At Work
  4. Disability Discrimination Law – Reasonable Adjustments
  5. What Can I Do If I Am Discriminated Against?
  6. Learn More About Disability Discrimination Law

What Is A Disability Under Disability Discrimination Law?

The Equality Act 2010 defines someone as having a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment that causes a substantial and long-term negative effect on their ability to carry out normal daily activities. 

There are specific meanings given to ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’. For example, under the Act 2010, substantial is more than minor or trivial, such as it taking much longer than usual to get dressed in the morning. Long-term means 12 months or more. 

A disability is a protected characteristic under this piece of legislation. For more information on what the law says about discriminating against someone with a disability, see the section below.

What Does The Law Say About Disability Discrimination?

You may be wondering what law protects individuals from discrimination based on disability. There are two key pieces of legislation. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 still applies to Northern Ireland and the Equality Act 2010 replaced the Act 1995 in England, Scotland and Wales.

There is protection given to those with a disability under the Act 2010. As such, it is against the law to discriminate against someone with a disability in various areas of their life. For example, at work, whilst in education or when renting or buying a property.

Disability can either be:

  • Direct: This is where a person is treated less favourably because of their disability in a situation where someone without a disability would have been treated differently.
  • Indirect: This is where a rule, policy or practice puts someone with a disability at an unfair disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person. The rule, policy or practice might seem as though it applies equally to everyone.

If you have experienced disability discrimination, the law allows you to take action. For more information, get in touch.

Disability Discrimination At Work

The Act 2010 provides protection of the protected characteristics listed in the legislation. One of these is disability. As such, the law protects those with a disability against discrimination, harassment and victimisation at work.

This means employers must take all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination of disability. If they failed to do so and one of their employees was discriminated against at work by another employee, the employer could be held vicariously liable. However, all employees are responsible for their own actions. 

Employers are required under disability discrimination law to make reasonable adjustments for those with a disability. We have explored what this means in more detail in the section below.

Disability Discrimination Law – Reasonable Adjustments

Under disability discrimination law, such as the Act 2010, employers must make reasonable adjustments to remove any disadvantages the employee faces or reduce them if they can’t be removed completely. This can be in relation to an employee’s disability when doing their job or an applicant with a disability when applying for a job. 

Examples of reasonable adjustments could include changes being made to the workplace, equipment or procedures in place outlining the way things are done. For example, an employer provides an accessible car parking space that is close to the office entrance to an employee who has to use a wheelchair due to their disability. 

These reasonable adjustments must be considered if:

  • The employer knows or could be expected to know that one of their employees or applicants has a disability. 
  • An employee with a disability asks for an adjustment to be made.
  • An applicant with a disability asks for an adjustment to be made.
  • An employee is struggling with any part of their job and they have a disability.
  • An employee’s disability is caused by or linked to their absence or sickness record or delay in returning to work.

As long as the changes or adjustments are reasonable, the employee must make them. However, it will depend on the specific circumstances as to what’s reasonable and what’s not.

What Can I Do If I Am Discriminated Against?

There are several steps you can take if you have been discriminated against. For example:

  • Checking that discrimination has occurred: This can include looking at the reason why you have been treated unfairly, as well as who has treated you unfairly. If you have been discriminated against unlawfully, you could be eligible to make a discrimination claim.
  • Finding out what action is right for you: There are different avenues you can take following unlawful discrimination, including making a complaint to the person or organisation responsible. Alternatively, you could opt for mediation. However, neither of these has any legal effect. As such, you could take legal action to seek compensation.
  • Establishing the facts of your case: If you choose to take legal action, it’s important to establish the events that have taken place as a way to support your case. 
  • Keeping documents: This can include emails and letters that correspond to the unfair treatment you have experienced. This can be used as evidence to support your potential disability discrimination claim.

To learn more, please get in touch with our advisors using the details provided below.

Learn More About Disability Discrimination Law

We hope this guide on disability discrimination law has helped. However, if you require any further information, please get in touch with our team. You can fill out the ‘contact us‘ page with your query.

Further Resources

Below, we have provided some additional reading from the government website that you may find beneficial.

Thank you for reading this guide on disability discrimination law. Get in touch using the details provided if you need any additional information.