Discrimination at work
Some of us experience disability discrimination at work because of our mental health. Find out about the laws that protect us from discrimination, plus where to go for support and advice.
- The Equality Act 2010 is the law that gives us the right to challenge discrimination. This law may protect us from discrimination when we:
- Are applying for a job, at work, made redundant or dismissed. Find out more about this over the next few pages.
- Use services or public functions. Find out more about this in our pages on disability discrimination.
- Buy, rent or live in property. Find out more about this in our pages on disability discrimination.
- Are in full- or part-time education.
- Join some private clubs and associations.
- To get protection under the Equality Act, you usually need to show that your mental health problem is a disability. Disability has a special legal meaning under the Equality Act. To find out if your mental health problem is considered a disability, see our page on disability.
- If your mental health problem is a disability and you want protection under the Equality Act, you'll probably have to tell your employer about it.
- Generally, employers can't ask you questions about your mental health before they make a job offer, though there are some exceptions.
- If you think you've experienced disability discrimination at work, there are things you can do to challenge the discrimination.
- It's best to resolve disputes informally if you can. But if you cannot sort your problems informally or through formal grievance, you can make a claim to an employment tribunal. If you're successful, the tribunal can either:
- If your work problems do not count as disability discrimination, you may still have other employment rights.
There are many situations in which you may feel treated unfairly because of your disability, but the law only covers these types of discrimination:
- direct discrimination
- discrimination arising from disability
- indirect discrimination
- not complying with the duty to make reasonable adjustments.
In the UK, law that protects you from discrimination is called the Equality Act.Visit our full listing of Legal Terms
These are changes that:
- organisations and people providing services and public functions
- education providers like universities and colleges
- managers of properties like landlords
- clubs and associations
should make for you if you are at a major disadvantage because of your mental health problems and it is reasonable.
Examples of reasonable adjustments include:
- making changes to the way things are organised or done
- making changes to the built environment, or physical features like steps or doorways around you
- providing aids and services for you.
'Disability' has a special legal meaning under the Equality Act, which is broader than the usual way you might understand the word. The Equality Act says that you have a disability if you have an impairment that is either physical or mental and the impairment has a substantial, adverse and long term effect on your normal daily activities.Visit our full listing of Legal Terms
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.Visit our full listing of Legal Terms
This information was published in November 2022. We will revise it in 2025.
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