Discrimination and Legal Rights
The Equality Act 2010 provides protection for everyone from discrimination, harassment or victimisation and refers particularly to protected characteristics like age, being pregnant or on maternity leave, disability, race including colour, nationality, religion or sex.
You’re protected from discrimination at work, in education, as a consumer, when using public services, when buying or renting a property, as a member or guest of a private club or association.
Under the Act, people are not allowed to discriminate, harass or victimise another person because they have any of the protected characteristics.
Discrimination is where you are treated worse than someone else, or when people put policies or procedures in place that put you at a disadvantage.
Harassment can be when someone violates your dignity or makes you feel degraded or humiliated, or you feel they are being hostile or offensive to you.
Victimisation is when you are being treated unfairly because you are taking action under the Equality Act or supporting someone else to take such action.
Discrimination at work
It’s against the law for employers to discriminate against you because of a disability.
You are classed as disabled under the Equality Act 2010 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:
‘substantial’ is more than minor or trivial – e.g. it takes much longer than it usually would to complete a daily task like getting dressed
‘long-term’ means 12 months or more – e.g. a breathing condition that develops as a result of a lung infection
There are special rules about recurring or fluctuating conditions, for example, arthritis.
An employer has to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to avoid you being put at a disadvantage compared to non-disabled people in the workplace, e.g. they could make adjustments to your working hours or provide you with a special piece of equipment to help you do the job.
There is potential help available from the Access to Work Scheme, which can make grants for special equipment, a support worker and fares to get to work.
Dismissal and redundancy
Your employer can’t dismiss you just because you’ve become disabled. However, you can be dismissed if your disability means you can’t do your job even with reasonable adjustments.
You can’t be chosen for redundancy just because you’re disabled. The selection process for redundancy must be fair and balanced for all employees.
Your employer cannot force you to retire if you become disabled. They must also keep your job open for you and can’t put pressure on you to resign just because you’ve become disabled.
For advice about work issues, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (known as ACAS) may be able to help. You could also talk to your trade union representative.
What to do if you feel you have experienced the above?
You can let us know at Equal Lives if you have experienced a hate crime - Equal Lives is a hate crime reporting centre and can support you through this process. For information and advice on discrimination and your legal rights you can contact us, we may be able to offer advice or signpost you to the appropriate support.
You can also visit the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) website. This service is aimed at individuals who need more expert advice and support on discrimination, they will explain legal rights and remedies within discrimination legislation.