If you suffer from a disability, you know how testing life can be when people discriminate against you for it. You may not know this, but there are laws put in place to protect you – it is actually against the law to discriminate against people because of a protected characteristic, and a disability of one of these characteristics.
If you are discriminated against at work, when renting or buying property or in education, you may be able to take legal action about it. This article is going to focus on disability discrimination at work, as this is perhaps the most common form, but some of the tips will apply to other areas.
What Counts as Disability?
When considering whether discrimination has taken place, the law has set what counts as a disability, so read on to find out whether or not you could claim for disability discrimination.
Basically, any physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantial negative effect on your day to day life counts as a disability. This includes sensory impairments such as poor sight or hearing, as well as learning disabilities and dyslexia. Some disfigurements also count, as do illnesses like multiple sclerosis and HIV.
Currently, the law does not count addictions, hay fever and a number of personality disorders as disabilities.
Disability Discrimination in the Workplace
If an employer treats you less favourably than other employees without a disability, it is known as direct discrimination, and is against the law.
It is also illegal for your employer to indirectly discriminate against you – for example, by requiring all employees to do something which is much more difficult to do with a disability.
Discrimination by association is also against the law: this is when you are discriminated against because of a connection with someone who has a disability, your spouse or child, for example.
Your employer must also make sure to make adjustments to the workplace to accommodate you and your disability, in order to continue to work effectively and comfortably.
How to Make a Claim
If you decide that you have been the victim of disability discrimination and you want to make a claim, your first step is to gather as much information pertaining to the case as possible. If you’ve been making notes of each incident, you’ll have no work to do, but if not then you’ll have to try and remember.
The next thing to do is get some advice. You should visit your local Citizens Advice Bureau and speak to an advisor there – any information is free as well as confidential, so you can’t go wrong. You should also visit Employment Advice Now and speak to an employment lawyer; an initial assessment with a lawyer should be free, and they should use it to answer any of your questions.
If the case goes to an employment tribunal, you’re most of the way there. Your employer should offer you your job back if you were wrongly made redundant, though you may be unwilling to accept it.
If you are successful, you should receive an offer of compensation for your troubles. It might not be enough to overcome the pain of discrimination, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.