“The Edwin Coe practice has excellent breadth and depth of experience and is unique in its well-balanced delivery of professional litigation work alongside a dedicated and empathetic approach to its clients. It is a truly wonderful firm and group of professionals.”
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If you suffer from physical or mental ill health, then in addition to the general duty on your employer to provide a safe place of work, you may have additional protections if your symptoms meet the definition of a ‘disability’ under the Equality Act.
An individual is ‘disabled’ for the purposes of the Equality Act where they have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial adverse impact on their ability to carry day to day activities, which is long term (i.e. has lasted or is likely to last at least 12 months). This is a legal test, not a medical one, and whilst it is important that each element of the test is made out, the bar is relatively low: ‘substantial adverse impact’ means ‘more than minor or trivial’ and ‘day to day activities’ includes activities such as sleeping, eating, concentrating, travelling to work etc. Whether or not there is a substantial adverse impact is assessed discounting the impact of any medication or treatment, so, if you have been experiencing symptoms for a while and are on medication to manage those symptoms, then it is likely you would be classed as ‘disabled’.
Where they are aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, of an employee’s disability, Employers are under additional obligations:
- not to directly discriminate because of disability;
- not to discriminate because of something arising from disability save where to do so is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim;
- to make a reasonable adjustment to any provision, criterion or practice applied generally, which puts the disabled employee at a substantial disadvantage, and where making that adjustment would alleviate the disadvantage;
- to justify any provision, criterion or practice applied generally to all staff which indirectly discriminates by places disabled people generally, and you specifically at a disadvantage;
- not to harass you (i.e. create an intimidating or hostile work environment) in relation to your disability;
- not to victimise you for asserting your rights as a disabled employee.
In all cases but for indirect discrimination, an employer must know, or ought reasonably to know, about your disability and/or the substantial adverse impact you may be experiencing as a result in the workplace, before the above duties are engaged. Accordingly, communicating these matters to your employer in the right way at the right time is critical.
We understand the detail of the law in this complex area, and we routinely work with employers and individuals to help them engage in an effective dialogue on these matters. We are passionate about helping disabled employees advocate for their legal rights, and helping businesses to understand how they may reasonably be able to accommodate different ways of working, to improve the experience of disabled individuals in the workplace.
If you are an individual with health concerns that are impacting you at work, please do get in touch.
Examples of our work:
- Acting for a director of a management consultancy in claims for direct disability discrimination, discrimination arising from disability and failure to make reasonable adjustments. Our client was dismissed following being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes shortly before their share options were due to vest. We were successful in obtaining judgment in his favour in the Employment Tribunal and a finding that the Respondent had fabricated documents which was upheld on Appeal.
- Acting for a senior salesperson at an international investment bank in a claim for disability discrimination. Our client had been subjected to an unfair performance management process which disadvantaged them in the circumstances of a physical disability. We advised in relation to claims for reasonable adjustments and discrimination arising from disability, raising a grievance to prevent our client’s dismissal and to enable on-going employment with full PPI benefit.
- Acting for a director level marketing executive for a multinational financial services corporation in claims for disability and sex discrimination. Our client had been bullied by her line manager and then threatened with redundancy which had a devastating impact on her health such that she was unfit for work and under the care of a psychiatrist. We advised her to raise a grievance and to request reasonable adjustments in relation to the redundancy selection criteria. As a result she remained employed on full pay for a further six months and a six figure settlement was achieved.
- Acting for a senior securities and derivatives lawyer at a top tier city law firm in relation to claims for disability discrimination and breach of contract in respect of their PPI entitlement. Negotiated the full pay out of their PPI entitlements under the terms of a severance agreement.
- Acting for head of desk at an international investment bank in relation to the Bank’s attempt to make them redundant following them having a seizure at work. Our client raised a grievance asserting direct disability discrimination and pressing for reasonable adjustments. A six figure severance package was agreed.
- Acting for board member and head of public affairs of a large communications company in claims for disability discrimination arising from our client being side lined following a stroke and a years’ period of sickness absence. A substantial six figure settlement was achieved.
- Acting for an in-house corporate equity derivatives lawyer at an international investment bank in relation to claims for pregnancy maternity discrimination, sex discrimination and disability discrimination arising from a redundancy occurring over 6 months from her return from maternity leave. Our client had maternity related PTSD and pressed for reasonable adjustments to the redundancy process. Employment Tribunal proceedings were issued but a substantial six figure settlement was reached without need for a full hearing.
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