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Employment Disability Discrimination Advice For Employers

Employment Law Advice For Employers & Employees

How to prevent discrimination against disability in your business

Under the Equality Act, who has a disability?

The Equality Act 2010 addresses discrimination against disability in the workplace. Certain conditions are automatically covered by the legislation from the point of diagnosis, including cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis. Your employee has a disability if a) they have a physical or mental impairment, and b) the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse affect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

The law also protects any of your employees who are discriminated against because of the disability of a family member, friend or other people they associate with.

Disability discrimination law can be complex, so it is important to consult with a specialist disability discrimination lawyer if you believe this is happening in your business.

Types of disability discrimination

  • Direct discrimination at work occurs where a person is treated less favourably because of their disability
  • Discrimination arising from disability – where a person is treated unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of their disability, unless this treatment can be objectively justified. It is not necessary to compare the treatment with someone else
  • Indirect discrimination is where a provision, criterion or practice disadvantages people with a disability – including the individual concerned – compared to those without that disability, unless the provision is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim
  • Failure to make reasonable adjustments is discriminatory when a provision, criterion or practice is applied, or a physical feature of premises exists, which substantially disadvantages a disabled person. You are obliged to make reasonable adjustments such as installing equipment, reallocating duties or changing workplace polices
  • Harassment is unwanted conduct related to disability which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The harassment need not be because of the person’s own disability for it to be unlawful. There is no defence of justification in respect of harassment
  • Victimisation where a person is treated less favourably because of action they have taken under or in connection with the legislation. For example, if someone formally complains of disability discrimination at work or supports someone who is complaining of disability discrimination in the workplace
  • Associative disability discrimination is when someone is treated unfairly because someone associated with them is disabled – for example, not employing a person because they have a disabled child
  • Perceived disability discrimination is discrimination against someone because of a perceived disability, even when that person is not actually disabled. For example, declining to employ someone because they have a mild hearing impairment which does not technically meet the criteria for disability under the law

How we help you protect disability rights in the workplace

Disability discrimination at work is complex and it can be difficult for you as employers to understand your duties and obligations in relation to disability discrimination law. We can help you put together best practice procedures to prevent unintentional disability discrimination in your organisation. We can also provide training on dealing with long-term sickness absence and how to make reasonable adjustments if someone’s disability makes it difficult or impossible to continue in their role. We also offer advice on redundancy and Settlement Agreements if it is impossible for one of your employees to continue in their role. There is no justification for failing to make reasonable adjustments, so it is vital to get this right.
For expert advice from our specialist disability discrimination lawyers, contact us on
01273 609911, or email

Martin Searle Solicitors, 9 Marlborough Place, Brighton, BN1 1UB
T: 01273 609 991

Martin Searle Solicitors is the trading name of ms solicitors ltd, which is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and is registered in England under company number 05067303.

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