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Disability discrimination

A general guide on how you are protected from discrimination under the Equality Act and what your rights are.

Complaining about disability discrimination

If you believe you've experienced disability discrimination, there are different ways to complain. What's best for you will depend on the area of discrimination you've experienced, and what exactly has happened. This page has information on how to:

If your employer discriminated against you, see our page on challenging workplace discrimination.

Resolve your complaint informally

Sometimes a problem can be sorted out by speaking with the person or organisation involved. This aims to resolve the problem without having to follow a formal process. 

An advocate may be able to help you if you would like support to do this. You can get more information about finding an advocate on our useful contacts page.

If this doesn't resolve your problem, you can try using a complaints procedure.

Use a complaints procedure

You may be able to complain through a formal complaints procedure.

For example, the NHS and local authority social services have complaints procedures. These allow you to to go to an Ombudsman if the complaint cannot be resolved. 

If this doesn't resolve your problem you could consider taking legal action.

If you're making a complaint, remember to:

  • Put the date on the letter
  • Keep a copy of the letter or email
  • Explain the discrimination you have experienced
  • Explain what you would like to happen next – such as an apology, change of practice, or compensation for losses you experienced because of the discrimination
  • Keep the tone polite

Take legal action

If you can't resolve your problems informally or by using a complaints procedure, you may want to consider taking legal action.

Depending on who has discriminated against you, this might mean that you would:

  • Complain to the county court
  • Bring a judicial review

Taking legal action can be stressful and expensive. So it's very important that you get legal advice from a specialist legal adviser before you do this. 

If you take legal action relating to disability you also need to send information about your claim to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

If you win your case, the court can order the other party to:

  • Pay you compensation for financial costs and any injury to your feelings (damages)
  • Make a public finding that there has been discrimination (a declaration)
  • Do something, for example make reasonable adjustments, or pay your costs

If you lose your case, the court can order you to pay the legal costs of the other party, unless you are in the small claims track. This can be very expensive.

If you have legal aid, you can be protected against paying back the other side's costs. It’s important to speak to a legal adviser to check if you can get legal aid.

Time limits

There are time limits for making a claim:

  • A claim must be started within 6 months minus 1 day of when the discrimination happened.
  • The court may allow a claim after this time limit if it thinks it is fair to do so. But you need to show that there are good reasons for being late.

Get help with legal fees

If you need to pay legal fees and you're on a low income, you may be able to get legal aid. This can help to pay for legal advice about your discrimination problem. And to pay a legal adviser to represent you in court.

To find out if you can get legal aid, you can use a legal aid eligibility calculator on the UK government website. You could also talk to a legal adviser. You can search for a legal adviser near to you on the UK government website. 

You’ll be asked what money and savings you have. It's important to have this information ready when you use the online calculator or speak to an adviser.

It's also a good idea to check any insurance policies you have, like home contents or car insurance. Sometimes these policies also cover general legal expenses. So you might be able to use them to pay a solicitor.

This information was published in October 2023. We will revise it in 2026. 

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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