Commission fights for workers in discrimination cases

Discrimination in the workplace accounted for more than half of
the cases dealt with by the Disability Rights Commission last year,
writes Sally Gillen.

Figures compiled by the watchdog, which celebrates its
third anniversary this month, show that 55 per cent of the 1,781
cases dealt with last year relate to work.

Since 2000, the DRC has taken over 100 employers to tribunals
over alleged acts of discrimination.

They include the £100,000 payout to a betting shop manager,
who was supported by the DRC during an employment tribunal after he
was sacked because his boss refused to make changes to accommodate
his wheelchair.

Chairperson of the DRC Bert Massie said: “Disabled people
are telling us that the workplace continues to be a hostile
environment. This need not be the case. Often all that is needed is
a small adjustment which may cost nothing or very

He added that the “considerable talent” of disabled
people was being wasted “for want of a little flexibility and
common sense”.

Meanwhile, the TUC is asking trade union members to sign a
petition calling for the government to introduce a new law to
provide equal rights for disabled people in the workplace.

It wants to see the definition of disability broadened to
include those with mental health problems and the removal of
exemptions from the Disability Discrimination Act’s remit of
a range of particular jobs.

It also wants to see the removal of a loophole which allows
employers to discriminate on the grounds of disability as long as
they have “justified” their decision.

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