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Explains what laws protect you from discrimination at work, what you can do if you are discriminated against, and where you can get support and advice.
There are six types of disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. This page gives some examples of how these might occur at work:
To find out more about each of these types of discrimination, see our information on disability discrimination.
If you are not happy with the way you have been treated at work, but your experience does not fit into these types of discrimination, you can check your other employment rights.
Sid has depression. He has worked for 2 years for his employer who knows he has depression. Recently he has had two periods of absence because of his depression. His employer disciplines him because of the amount of absences he has had.
Sid has been treated worse not because of his disability but because of something arising out of his disability – the time he has taken off sick. This may be discrimination arising from Sid’s disability.
But Sid’s treatment will not be discrimination arising from disability if his employer can show that:
Sarah's employer decides that all staff must start a new shift pattern which involves working late in the evening. No staff can opt out. But Sarah takes medication for schizoaffective disorder which makes her feel very sleepy in the evenings, so she isn't able to work late shifts.
This is likely to be indirect discrimination as it puts Sarah at a disadvantage.
But it will not be discrimination if her employer is able to justify the arrangement by showing that it is:
Often something that is indirect discrimination is also something that gives rise to the duty to make reasonable adjustments. In this example Sarah's employer may be under a duty to make reasonable adjustments for Sarah, such as allowing her to remain on the existing shift pattern.
Mary has an eating disorder. Mary’s manager knows she has an eating disorder and she makes offensive remarks in the open plan office about people with anorexia. This is likely to be harassment.
Sylvie works in an office. She has depression and has been absent from work for several periods in the last couple of years because of this.
Her employer is having to making a number of staff redundant, and they want to consider absence levels when deciding who to make redundant.
This would put Sylvie at a substantial disadvantage compared to her colleagues, so it may be reasonable for Sylvie's employer to disregard her disability-related absences when making redundancy decisions.
Sylvie is also finding the uncertainty difficult to cope with and has become distressed at work. She is taking part in a supported employment scheme from the workplace mental health support scheme. Her employer lets her make private phone calls to her support worker in the working day as a reasonable adjustment.
Read more about reasonable adjustments you can ask for in the workplace.
When someone is treated worse because of their physical or mental health condition, this is known as 'disability discrimination'.
The Equality Act is the law that explains what a disability is, and when worse treatment counts as discrimination.
Generally, you have to show that you have a disability before you can challenge worse treatment as disability discrimination. The exceptions to this are if you received worse treatment because your employer thinks you're disabled but you're not, or because of your association with a disabled person.
See our pages on disability discrimination for more information.See our full list of legal terms.
This information was published in March 2018. We will revise it in 2020.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.