Disability Discrimination – What Help Is Available For Victims?
. Everyone has the legal right to work in an environment that is free of intimidation, harassment, discrimination or victimisation. If you feel that you have been discriminated directly or indirectly or that you are the victim of sustained harassment or victimisation because of your disability there are several steps to follow. It is worth remembering that discrimination is any action or behaviour which treats groups as inherently different, at the detriment or preference of one or more of those groups.
The first step is to have a confidential discussion with your employer where you can explain your grievances to them. This is very important because it will look odd if you haven’t discussed the problem with your employer before making a claim for unfair treatment. You will need to make sure that you outline the employer’s responsibilities and your rights as outlined by the Disability Discrimination Act and the Equality Act. Remind them that it’s there legal duty to try and ensure that discrimination is removed from their business and that they must take ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure a disabled persons ability to work freely.
If this first step does not prove successful then it will be the time to make a formal complaint through the company’s internal complaints procedure. This will not allow the employer to dismiss your claim as they will have to investigate and gather opinions from a number of different people. Your employer would be held liable for any discrimination that happened within their jurisdiction and so they will most likely want the matter resolved properly and thoroughly. Since evidence of direct discrimination is rare it might be worth issuing your employer with a Questionnaire requesting any important information. This will not only potentially help you understand your treatment but could also provide useful evidence if you decide to take your complaint further. Your employer refusing to cooperate with this request is itself considered evidence by the Employment Tribunal.
If at this point you are still unsatisfied with how your complaint was dealt with or you feel you are still the victim of either harassment or victimisation, then there are two main options for you. You can either take your claim to the Employment Tribunal or you can seek advice from bodies such as the Citizens advice Bureau or the Advisory, Arbitration and Conciliation Service. Employment Tribunals are deliberative bodies that hear discrimination claims. A claim can be made to the Tribunal must be made within three months of the last discriminatory act and is open to people who have pursued their complaint to the end of their companies internal procedures.
The tribunal can make a declaration that states unequivocally your rights as an employee and your employer’s obligations under the law, award compensation or make a set of practical recommendations to help limit the discrimination in the future. If these steps are followed your claim of discriminatory treatment will not only be heard but you will have exercised your rights as an employee to work in an environment free of discrimination.