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Disability Discrimination Explained

Discrimination against disabled persons in different aspects of their lives is illegal.

You may be able to take action if disability discrimination occurs in any of the following situations:

  • at the workplace

  • when delivering goods, services, and facilities

  • when renting or purchasing a home

  • in terms of schooling

Discrimination against disabled individuals is legal in some essential areas, such as access to public transportation.


Discrimination against people with disabilities can be direct or indirect.

Direct discrimination occurs when you are treated less favorably because of your disability than you would be treated under the same circumstances if you were not disabled.

Here’s an example of disability-related direct discrimination:

A pub’s beer garden enables a family with a cerebral palsy youngster to drink, but not in the family room. The impaired child’s family is not afforded the same options as other families.

Indirect discrimination occurs when a rule, policy, or practice appears to apply equally to everyone but really places handicapped individuals at a disadvantage when compared to non-disabled people.

As an example of indirect discrimination, consider the following:

A local government creates an information booklet for residents regarding its services. To save money, it does not print an easy-to-read version of the booklet. This would make it more difficult for people with learning disabilities to obtain services, and it might be considered indirect discrimination.

It is sometimes feasible to rationalize a rule, policy, or practice that disadvantages disabled persons. There could be a health and safety issue or an unavoidable commercial cause, for example. It will not be considered discrimination if this is the case.

Discrimination based on disability is an example of another type of discrimination. This means that someone is treated unfairly because of something related to their condition, and there is no justification for it. For example, they may require the assistance of a guide dog, yet no accommodations are made to accommodate this.

If someone does not provide reasonable accommodations to allow disabled persons to use a service or perform a job, this is also considered disability discrimination. For instance, presenting a Braille information booklet. The duty to make reasonable changes is what it’s called.

Discrimination based on disability is also a problem:

  • if you are disabled, to harass you, for example, by making jokes about your impairment

  • to victimize you if you file a lawsuit because of discrimination against you, or if you assist another person in filing a lawsuit because of discrimination.

  • not taking steps to ensure that disabled individuals have access to goods, facilities, and services, as well as a workplace, an educational institution, an association, or a public facility. This is referred to as “fair changes.”

  • if you are discriminated against because you have a connection to someone who is disabled, such as a partner or child. Discrimination by association is the term for this.

Here’s an example of associational discrimination:

Because she had to take time off to care for her disabled child, her employer disciplined her. He hasn’t reprimanded other employees who have taken similar amounts of time off. This would be considered discrimination based on handicap.


Discrimination because of a disability

If someone harasses you because of your disability, it is disability discrimination. You might be able to do something about it.

If you find someone’s behavior towards you unpleasant, frightening, degrading, embarrassing, or in any way distressing, they are harassing you. Nicknames, taunting, name-calling, pulling faces, jokes, pranks, or any other behavior that you find uncomfortable because of your disability are examples of harassment. Even if the behavior isn’t intended to harm you, it could be considered discrimination if you find it upsetting.

Even if the individual harassing you is aware that you do not have a disability, harassment might nonetheless occur.

Here’s an example of disability-related harassment:

A child with multiple sclerosis is tormented by his scout leader, who asks him whether he’s okay all of the time, despite his parents’ requests that he not do so in front of the other boys.

Even if the scout leader believes he is being helpful and has no purpose of harming or humiliating the child, this could be considered harassment if the boy finds it unpleasant.



If you file a complaint alleging handicap discrimination, you should not face retaliation. This implies you should not be treated unfairly simply because you filed a complaint.

Taking a case to court, going to an employment tribunal, or standing up for your rights in some other way is all part of making a complaint.

If you are victimized as a result of filing a complaint regarding disability discrimination, you may be entitled to legal protection. You may also be protected against discrimination if you assist someone else in filing a complaint about handicap discrimination, such as by testifying in court.

As an example of victimization, consider the following:

A man with a mental handicap sues a pub owner for making disparaging comments about his disability to other patrons.

As a result, the pub owner bans the man from entering the establishment. This is a form of victimization.


What qualifies as a handicap?

When determining whether or not discrimination has occurred, there are guidelines about what the law considers to be a handicap.


Discrimination based on disability in employment

If your employer treats you unfairly because you’re disabled, it’s illegal; see if your workplace problem is discrimination.

To allow you to work or continue to work, your employer must make some changes to the workplace; ask your employer for reasonable adaptations.

Employers can only treat disabled individuals less favorably if they have a sufficiently justifiable basis and if the situation cannot be solved through “reasonable adjustments.” An employer would be right in rejecting someone with significant back pain for a job as a carpet fitter, for example, because they are unable to perform the job’s basic functions.

The following are some examples of the types of adjustments that an employer might make:

  • making physical changes to the location

  • giving specialized tools to assist you in your work, or presenting information in a manner that is easily accessible

  • reassigning you to a new position or workplace

  • adjusting your working hours or providing you with additional vacation time

Employers might consider numerous factors when determining whether an adjustment is acceptable, including the cost of making the change and the size of their company. If you already have a job, your employer can consider your talents and experience, as well as the amount of time you have been there.


Workplace accessibility

If you are impaired and require adjustments at work in order to perform your job, Access to Work may be able to assist you. If you are disabled and seeking for work or participating in a government training or work experience program, such as a supported internship or a self-made work trial, Access to Work may be able to assist you. If you’re a young handicapped person getting voluntary work experience under the Youth Contract or starting your own business with the New Enterprise Allowance, Access to Work may be able to assist you.

Access to Work is a government program that works with handicapped persons and companies to determine what modifications are required so that the impaired person can perform their job. They may also be able to contribute funds to cover the costs of the improvements.

Access to Work may be able to assess your needs at work and assist you with things like equipment, modifying your workspace, or hiring a support worker. It can also assist patients with mental illnesses in finding, keeping, or returning to work.


Discrimination of other kinds

In addition to being treated unfairly because of your disability, you may also be treated unfairly for the following reasons:

  • sex

  • based on race, ethnicity, or nationality

  • regardless of sexual orientation

  • years

  • faith or religion

  • you’re either married or in a civil partnership.

  • gender reassignment is a term used to describe the process of changing one’s

  • you’re expecting a child or on maternity leave

For example, suppose you’re a pregnant disabled lady who was fired from her job. You may be able to file a claim for both pregnancy and handicap discrimination.