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Disability discrimination can present itself in several forms ranging from harassment to exclusion.  Here, employment law specialist Ian Lewis describes the main types of disability discrimination and gives examples of discrimination that would constitute a disability discrimination claim.

When can you claim for disability discrimination?

Disability discrimination can take place in a range of situations from in a workplace, an educational setting or in every day circumstances such as when buying goods from a shop.

Types of disability discrimination

Types of disability discrimination, include direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, discrimination by association or discrimination arising from disability.  In brief terms, the differences are:

  • Direct discrimination: when you are treated less favourably than someone else who does not have a disability. For example, you could be denied entry into a bar whilst someone without a disability is able to enter without question.
  • Indirect discrimination: when a rule or policy is in place for everyone, but this actually works to your detriment because of a disability. For example, a policy could be in place to provide an incentive to staff members who complete a certain number of physical tasks each month. If, because of your disability, you aren’t able to join in and miss out on the prize, this could be considered indirect discrimination.
  • Discrimination by association: when you are discriminated against because you are associated with someone who has a disability, for example a family member.
  • Discrimination arising from disability: when you are treated unfairly based on something related to your disability, for example not being allowed into a shop because you have a guide dog.

Disability discrimination when buying goods and services

Whether you’re visiting a corner shop, leisure centre or large hotel, if you are using a service or facility (whether free or paid for) or purchasing goods, you have rights which protect you from disability discrimination.  This includes (but is not limited to) goods and services from eating and drinking establishments, leisure facilities, public transport, airlines, legal or financial services and local authorities.

Disability discrimination at work

It is illegal for employers to treat employees less favourably either because the employee them self is disabled, or because a family member of theirs is disabled.  For example, promoting an employee who is not disabled over an employee who is disabled because they don’t have a disabled family member who may sometimes require their support, would be discrimination.

Employers are also obligated to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees which allows them to carry out their job comfortably and easily.  Examples of reasonable adjustments include making changes to how a building is accessed to allow easy wheelchair access or to provide documents in Braille or large type.

For more information about what constitutes failing to make reasonable adjustments, see our Disability Discrimination: Reasonable Adjustments article.

Is harassment disability discrimination?

There are several ways of harassing someone that could be considered to be disability discrimination.  For example, making jokes or name-calling in relation to a disability would be harassment.  Similarly, even if someone like a teacher or employee means well by asking whether you can see something properly in front of others each time there is a class/meeting, this could be distressing and embarrassing and may also constitute harassment in relation to a disability.

Specialist advice about disability discrimination

If you have experienced disability discrimination in any form, then you may be entitled to make a claim against the person or people who have discriminated against you.  By speaking to a solicitor who specialises in these cases, you will be given a realistic idea of whether you will have a good chance of a claim as well as being given advice about what will happen throughout the process of a claim.

Speak to an employment law solicitor

Bray & Bray has three main offices in Leicestershire. Contact our employment team using any of the telephone numbers below:

Leicester call us on 0116 254 8871.

Hinckley call us on 01455 639 900.

Market Harborough call us on 01858 467 181.