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A person who is disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010 is someone with a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. This covers a wide range of impairments but would include for example cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and heart conditions, a significant mobility difficulty and mental health conditions or learning difficulties.

There are a number of contexts in which disability discrimination can take place in the workplace including:

    • Recruitment
    • Promotion
    • Terms and conditions of employment
    • Training
    • Disciplinary and grievance procedures
    • Dismissals
    • Redundancy

Disability Discrimination can take the following forms:

Direct Disability Discrimination

This is where a person (A) treats another (B), because of their disability, less favourably than A treats or would treat others. So, for example, if you are turned down for a job because of your disability even though your disability would not prevent you from doing the role, this may amount to direct disability discrimination.

Indirect Disability Discrimination

This is where an employer applies a provision, criterion or practice equally to all but it puts or would put people of the same disability at a particular disadvantage when compared with others or puts a person with that disability at that disadvantage in circumstances where the employer has failed to take such steps as are reasonable to avoid that disadvantage and it cannot be shown to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Reasonable Adjustments

Where a physical feature or a provision, criterion or practice or physical feature puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in comparison to others who are not disabled, an employer has a duty to take all steps as is reasonable, in all the circumstances to have to take to avoid the disadvantage.

The duty applies during recruitment and actual employment.

Some examples of reasonable adjustments include:-

  • Making adjustments to premises
  • Allocating some duties to another person
  • Transferring the disabled person to fill an existing vacancy
  • Altering working hours
  • Acquiring or modifying equipment

There is also a requirement where a disabled person would, but for the provision of an auxiliary aid, be put at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled, to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to provide the auxiliary aid.

Discrimination arising from disability

A person (A) discriminates against a disabled person (B) if-

(a) A treats B unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of B’s disability, and

(b) A cannot show that the treatment is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

The above section however does not apply if A shows that A did not know or could not reasonably be expected to know that B had a disability


A person (A) harasses another (B) if:-

(a) A engages in unwanted conduct related to B’s disability; and

(b) the unwanted conduct has the purpose or effect of (i) violating B’s dignity or (ii) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for B.


A person (A) victimises another person (B) if A subjects B to a detriment because B raises a grievance about disability discrimination, brings a claim of disability discrimination, complains about or alleges disability discrimination or gives evidence or information in relation to someone else’s disability discrimination claim or because A believes that B has done or may do one of those things. So if for example you are denied promotion or training because of your involvement in a complaint of disability discrimination, this may be considered victimisation.

If an allegation is made in bad faith or false evidence or information is given this may mean you are not protected.

If you think that you have suffered any of the above kinds of disability discrimination then contact us for an initial telephone consultation to assess the merits of your case.