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Disability discrimination

Fiona Cuming

Editor's message: People with disabilities are protected in the workplace against discrimination, harassment and victimisation because of their disability. The protection covers actual and prospective employees, and ex-employees.

An important and unique feature of disability discrimination law is the duty to make reasonable adjustments. One of the situations in which the duty is triggered is where an employer adopts a rule or practice that subjects a disabled person to a substantial disadvantage. Under the duty, employers must take reasonable steps to remove that disadvantage.

You may do this by, for example, allocating some of the disabled person's duties to another person; changing his or her hours or place of work; or modifying disciplinary or grievance procedures. A failure to comply with the duty to make reasonable adjustments constitutes disability discrimination.

There is no qualifying period of employment for an individual to bring a claim of disability discrimination to an employment tribunal and no ceiling on the amount of compensation that can be awarded if a claim is successful.

Fiona Cuming, employment law editor

New and updated

  • Disability discrimination

    Type:
    Employment law manual

    Updated to include information on Forbes v LHR Airport Ltd, in which the EAT considered if posting an offensive image on Facebook was done "in the course of employment".

  • Cases on appeal

    Type:
    Law reports

    Updated to reflect that the Supreme Court allowed the appeal in Tillman v Egon Zehnder Ltd.

  • Direct discrimination: Court of Appeal rules on perceived disability

    Date:
    26 June 2019
    Type:
    Law reports

    In Chief Constable of Norfolk v Coffey, the Court of Appeal upheld the tribunal decision that a police constabulary had directly discriminated against an officer because of its perception that her medical condition could develop into a disability in the future.

  • Disability discrimination: Dismissal for poor attendance was harsh but fair

    Date:
    18 June 2019
    Type:
    Law reports

    In Kelly v Royal Mail Group Ltd, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that a long-serving employee's dismissal for frequent absences in accordance with the employer's attendance policy was harsh but fair.

  • Withdrawing offer of overseas posting was not direct disability discrimination

    Date:
    24 May 2019
    Type:
    Law reports

    In Owen v Amec Foster Wheeler Energy Ltd and another, the Court of Appeal held that refusing to allow a disabled employee to undertake an overseas posting due to medical concerns did not amount to direct disability discrimination.

  • Date:
    12 April 2019
    Type:
    Legal guidance

    Many men and women still view menstruation as a taboo topic and feel uncomfortable talking about periods, even though they affect 51% of the UK population at some point in their life. Natalie Taylor looks at whether period pain can constitute a disability and at ways employers can support women with more severe symptoms.

  • Disability discrimination: EAT considers if car parking space is a reasonable adjustment

    Date:
    10 April 2019
    Type:
    Law reports

    In Linsley v Revenue and Customs Commissioners, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that the employer's discretionary car parking policy was a relevant factor to be taken into account in determining the issue of reasonable adjustments, as was the particular disadvantage suffered by the employee, namely the stress of searching for a parking place.

  • Webinar: Tricky sickness issues - your questions answered

    Date:
    28 March 2019
    Type:
    Audio and video

    Darren Newman discusses tricky sickness absence related issues, including the relationship between sickness absence and disability discrimination, and the steps you can take to support an employee's return to work.

  • Dismissing mentally ill employee for failing to attend meetings was discrimination, decides tribunal

    Date:
    25 March 2019
    Type:
    Law reports

    In Flemming v East of England Ambulance Services NHS Trust, an employment tribunal held that an NHS Trust discriminated against a mentally ill employee by dismissing him for gross misconduct following his failure to attend a sickness absence review meeting and occupational health appointments.

  • Date:
    25 February 2019
    Type:
    Legal guidance

    Equality is high on the agenda of most NHS employers. As well as being subject to the gender pay gap reporting regime, NHS employers are required to comply with an equality standard in relation to race, and from April 2019 will be required to comply with a standard on disability. Nicky Green from law firm Capsticks explores what the standards mean for NHS employers.