Disability Discrimination Solicitors - Employment Compensation Claim law

You may have a claim against an employer if you believe that you have been treated unfairly in the workplace on the basis of a disability and you may be entitled to receive compensation. Call us today to arrange a risk free telephone consultation with one of of our disability discrimination solicitors. If the outcome of that conversation results in you instructing a disability discrimination solicitor to act on your behalf, there will be negotiations to settle the claim failing which there will be an application on your behalf to the Employment Tribunal for compensation and/or reinstatement.

Disability Discrimination Act 1995

Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, an employer may not differentiate in the treatment of a disabled employee based on that individual’s disability. This means that disabled individuals are to be provided the same opportunities as non-disabled individuals in all areas, including work, services and facilities, the ability to rent or buy property and the providing of goods. Disability, as covered under the legislation, is defined as “a physical or mental impairment, which has a substantial and long-term negative effect on the ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.” The Act also includes those suffering from full or partial loss of hearing or sight, serious disfigurement, multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDS.

To be considered under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 for compensation, a solicitor must show that a qualifying long-term disability must :-

  • have lasted for more than 12 months; or
  • be expected to last for 12 months; or
  • be expected to last until the individual’s death if their life expectancy is less than 12 months

An impairment is judged as having an affect on the individual’s ability to carry out of normal, day-to-day activities if any of the following are compromised :-

  • the ability to use hands, such as for writing or cooking
  • mobility
  • memory
  • the ability to concentrate, learn or understand
  • physical coordination
  • the ability to lift, carry or move ordinary objects
  • continence (the ability to control your bladder or bowels)
  • speech, hearing or eyesight
  • being able to recognise physical danger

Alcohol addiction, cigarette addiction, dependence on non-prescription medications, voyeurism, exhibitionism, kleptomania, pyromania and body piercings and tattoos are not covered by the Act. However, physical damage arising from one or more of these conditions has been considered a disability in some cases.

Types of disability discrimination

It is against the law for an employer to :-

  • discriminate against a disabled person
  • treat anyone less favourably because of a disability
  • harass a disabled person
  • victimise a person who takes or assists in legal action because of discrimination
  • fail to implement “reasonable adjustments” to the workplace which may include :-
    • structural alterations to buildings
    • supplying special equipment
    • a transfer to a different workplace
    • altering hours of work or giving extra time off

Equal Opportunities

The Disability Discrimination Act 1996 gave legal rights to those suffering from physical or mental disabilities within the sphere of employment. The intention of the legislation was to grant those with disabilities both fair treatment and the right to equal employment opportunities. Under the legislation disabled people have statutory protection from unfair treatment if they suffer from a mental or physical impairment which has a long-term or permanent effect on their ability to engage in the normal activities of day-to-day life. This definition covers a wide range of conditions which may have permanent or long term effects. Impairments that have an effect or have been determined to have an effect on the individual's capacity to do regular or routine functions include :

  • mobility
  • use of hands
  • physical bearing
  • speech, hearing or eyesight
  • memory
  • the skill of concentrating, learning or understanding
  • the capacity to lift typical objects in the work, which includes carrying or moving
  • continence (control of bladder or bowel movements)
  • being capable of observing physical danger

Code of Conduct

There is a code of practice published by HMSO called "Elimination of discrimination in the field of employment against disabled person or persons who have had a disability" which gives guidelines for employers on the recommended provisions for the employment of disabled persons as well as practical guidance on the work of trade unions to avoid discrimination against disabled employees.

New regulations were published in October 1994 that require changes to be made to the physical structure of business establishments. These regulations are outlined in the HMSO publication "Code of Practice - Rights of Access, Goods, Facilities, Services and Premises" which is aimed at businesses and service providers whose premises discourage disabled people due to difficult or impossible access arrangements.

Disability Harassment

Disability harassment occurs when a person engages in unwanted conduct related to a disability with the effect of violating the disabled person's dignity or by creating an intimidating, hostile degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the victim by remarks or conduct. Whilst harassment usually consists of ongoing offensive behaviour, just one serious incident is sufficient for a complaint to be made and it is not necessary for the victim to complain on every occasion that there is offensive behaviour.

In cases of disability harassment an employer can be held liable for acts by a worker's colleagues (or managers) or by customers or suppliers if the employer fails to take reasonable action once the issue is brought to their attention and events outside work may also be covered by the provisions of the Equality Act which is supplemented by the provisions of the Protection from Harassment Act.

It is not necessary for the offender to mean to cause offense and the mere 'banter' excuse is not sufficient to protect the perpetrator, who will be held liable in the Employment Tribunal or in the civil court if the victim is offended by their words or conduct. Case law has dictated that those victims who are hypersensitive to remarks that can be misinterpreted will not be covered by the statutory provisions. Whilst the test on the face of it appears to be subjective this has now been tempered by case law to be an objective test although the victim's interpretation of the questionable words of behaviour is taken into account.

Disability law for employers & employees

Disability law is a growing area which crosses over with numerous other areas of law. No business can afford to ignore its legal obligations and a disability discrimination solicitor can assist with clear advice on the law's requirements in many areas and with policies and procedures to avoid problems and doubts or grey areas in a work force's understanding of the basics.

Disability discrimination solicitors regularly assist individuals suffering from a wide variety of disabilities in upholding or pursuing their rights. Please contact us if you have had any difficulties with an employer/service provider and our solicitors will look to assist you in reaching a satisfactory outcome.