Are you disabled? You are regarded as having a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day to day activities. There are some exclusions e.g. addiction to alcohol, nicotine etc., tendancy to set fires, steal, abuse other people, exhibitionism and voyeurism.

“Substantial” means more than minor or trivial.

“Long term” means that the impairment has lasted for at least 12 months, is likely to last for at least 12 months, or the rest of your life.

What if: Because of your disability, which is known to your employer, you are treated less favourably (worse) than another worker or job applicant who shares the same “material circumstances” (including abilities) as you, but does not suffer from your disability?

For example:  you are dismissed or not given a job or promotion or access to facilities because of your disability, where someone in the same situation as you (except for your disability) would not have been treated that way. 

This is known as Direct Discrimination. It is unlawful.  Employers may still justify not employing disabled people who cannot do the job even with a reasonable adjustment because in that situation you are not being treated any worse that a non disabled person who is unable to do the job.

What if: Your employer instructs or encourages you to do something in relation to someone else which amounts to disability discrimination?

For example:  you are a manager and your managing director hears that you are proposing to employ a disabled worker. He suggests that if you proceed with the appointment it might reflect poorly on your judgement and affect your future. 

This is known as causing or inducing discrimination and it is unlawful. It can never be justified.

What if: Someone helps someone else to discriminate against, harass or victimise you on the basis of your disability?

This is known as “aiding discrimination”. A person who knowingly helps someone discriminate against, harass or victimise another person is treated as having done the unlawful act him or herself.

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The information contained on this page is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. It states the law as of December 2014. We recommend that specific professional advice is obtained on any particular matter. We do not accept responsibility for any loss arising as a result of the use of the information contained in this page.