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Disability discrimination


Disability is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

The disability discrimination provisions of the Equality Act replace the provisions contained in the repealed Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA). While there are a number of key differences, the underlying principles are the same with some of the DDA case law remaining relevant.

The Equality Act makes disability discrimination unlawful in employment; education; housing; the provision of services, the exercise of public functions and membership of associations. This section covers disability discrimination under the employment-related discrimination provisions in part 5 of the Equality Act.

The definition of "employee" is broad and, unlike unfair dismissal law, includes workers and agency workers.

An employee has the protected characteristic of disability if they satisfy the definition of disability under s.6 of the Act.

Employees who have a disability are protected against various types of discriminatory behaviour.

Employers have an active duty to make reasonable adjustments to assist disabled employees. The Employment statutory code of practice provides a non-exhaustive list of possible reasonable adjustments. A reasonable adjustment may mean treating the disabled employee more favourably than non-disabled employees if that is what is required to remove the substantial disadvantage for the disabled employee.

An employer will not be liable for discrimination arising from disability where the employer did not know, and could not reasonably have been expected to know, that the employee had the disability.

Non-disabled employees may be protected against direct disability discrimination where they are treated less favourably because they are perceived to have a disability or are associated with a disabled person.