Disability discrimination

Topic Index
Definition of disability
Direct disability discrimination
Discrimination ‘arising from’ disability
Indirect disability discrimination
Duty to make adjustments
Pre-employment health questions
Specialist organisations



  • The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination against disabled people. Disability is one of the nine ‘protected characteristics’ under the Act.
  • The law covers recruitment, selection, and promotion and applies to contract workers as well as directly employed workers. It also applies to dismissal, including constructive dismissal.
  • Discrimination or harassment of an employee on the grounds of someone else’s disability or a perceived disability is also covered and employees are protected from discrimination on grounds of a past disability.
  • Employees are protected from harassment and victimisation because they have brought a claim or made a complaint of disability discrimination.
  • Post-termination discrimination is also covered - it is unlawful to discriminate against or subject a disabled person to harassment where the discrimination/harassment arises out of and is closely connected to the employment relationship, e.g. providing references.
  • Once it's established that a person is disabled, an employer (including a prospective or ex-employer) is under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate that person's disability.
  • The provisions of the Equality Act 2010 apply to England, Scotland and Wales. Separate (and similar) legislation applies to Northern Ireland.

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