disability discrimination in the workplace

Disability Discrimination in the Workplace

Disability Discrimination in the Workplace

In this recent article, disability discrimination in the workplace is discussed and refers to a tribunal case where a disabled employee was awarded £25,000 after they were discriminated against at work.

Do you know what the Disability Discrimination Act in the UK is?

As an employer, do you know what your duties and obligations are?

Recent case law saw an employee awarded £25,000 for disability discrimination – are you at risk?

What is a Disability?

Under the Equality Act 2010, you’re disabled if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities. 

Employers must do all they reasonably can to protect their employees from discrimination and take necessary steps to prevent disability discrimination at work.

Who is Responsible for disability discrimination in the workplace?

Any employee who discriminates against someone at work is responsible, however, an employer can be held responsible too. This is called vicarious liability. What does that mean? Acas defines Vicarious liability to be ‘when an employer could be held responsible if one of their employees discriminates against someone’.  Legally, The Equality Act 2010 says an employee and employer could both be held responsible if discrimination happens in the course of employment. This means something that links to the employee’s work. A judge at a tribunal would decide whether the employer is responsible or not if they took reasonable steps to prevent discrimination.

This is what happened in a recent Tribunal Case when an employee with cerebral palsy was told not to ‘play the disability card’. The employee had made their employer aware of their disability and requested some reasonable adjustments to enable them to meet the requirements of their role. The employer was reluctant to make these adjustments, with no reasonable business reason. As a result, this led to the employee being unable to perform at the required standard. After many failed attempts to appeal to the employer’s obligation, the employee had no choice but to resign.

The case went to a tribunal. It was decided that the employer failed to meet their duty to make reasonable adjustments to remove barriers. It was found that the employee was not treated fairly, with dignity or respect. In addition, they added that there is simply no place for discrimination in the workplace and awarded the employee £25,000.

Can you prove you have taken reasonable steps to prevent discrimination? 

Do you know what to do if an employee informs you they have a disability? Do you know what steps to take, what risk assessment to use, and whether you require occupational health support? There is a lot to consider when getting it right and a lot to lose if you get it wrong.

Be the employer of choice and ensure your business and employees are aware of disability discrimination, as well as equality, diversity and inclusion in your workplace. Contact our expert team at HPC and we can guide you in the right direction and set you up for success.

To find out more information or if you require any advice about disability discrimination in the workplace get in contact with our team of experts.

T: 0330 107 1037

E: contact@hpc.uk.com

Twitter: @HPC_HRServices

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