Types of disability discrimination claim in the Employment Tribunal

by Redmans on May 20, 2013

  • SumoMe

In the wake of the recent Macmillan Cancer support survey into the prevalence of disability discrimination and harassment in the workplace, we thought that it would be a good idea to take a look at the various forms of disability discrimination, harassment and victimisation that can potentially take place in the workplace (under the Equality Act 2010). We’ll therefore take a look in this post at direct and indirect disability discrimination and cover the other main forms of discrimination (including discrimination arising from disability, failure to make reasonable adjustments, disability-related harassment and victimisation).

  1. Direct disability discrimination
  2. Indirect disability discrimination

Disclaimer: it is recommended that you obtain expert employment law advice from an employment law solicitor if you think that disability-related discrimination may have taken place in your workplace as it can be a potentially complex area of law

Direct disability discrimination

Direct disability discrimination occurs when:

  • A disabled worker or employee is subjected to a detriment in the workplace; and
  • A worker who did not possess such a disability would not have been treated in the same fashion

An example of direct disability discrimination would be if a disabled worker was selected for redundancy instead of a non-disabled worker solely because they possessed a disability.

There is no defence to direct disability discrimination if proven.

If you think that you have been subjected to direct disability discrimination then you have three months less one day from the date of the act of discrimination (in this case the selection for redundancy) to make a claim for unfair dismissal. For example, if the discrimination took place on 2 February 2013 then the “limitation date” in the claim would be 1 May 2013.

Indirect disability discrimination

Indirect disability discrimination occurs when:

  • A disabled worker or employee is subjected to a practice, criterion or provision
  • The relevant practice, criterion or provision is discriminatory in nature i.e. it places persons with the disabled worker’s characteristics at a particular disadvantage compared to non-disabled workers; and
  • The person who is complaining about the PCP possesses the protected characteristic (i.e. they are in fact suffering from that particular disability)

An example of indirect disability discrimination might encompass a situation where an employer’s office was located on the second floor of a building with no lift access – this would mean that disabled persons would be at a particular disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person.

A “defence” is available to a claim of indirect disability discrimination – that of “justification”. An employer will succeed in defending an indirect disability discrimination claim if they can show that the location of the workplace was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

As with direct disability discrimination, the time limit for claims of indirect disability discrimination is three months less one day from the date that the last incident of discrimination took place. In the above example, the time limit would probably run until the business implemented changes to prevent detriment being suffered by disabled workers and employees.

Redmans Solicitors are employment law solicitors and compromise agreement solicitors based in London

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