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18 Rights for Disabled People

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1. Introduction

2. When discrimination can happen

3. What the law says

4. What counts as a disability

5. When discrimination is allowed

6. Discrimination at work

7. Discrimination when buying and using goods and services

8. Discrimination by public authorities

9. Discrimination by private clubs and associations

10. Discrimination when buying or renting a property

11. Discrimintaion at school or college

12. What you can do about discrimination

13. Going to an employment tribunal (ET)

If you want to bring a claim under the Disability Discrimination Act, you must send it on form ET1 to an employment tribunal office. You can get this form from an employment tribunal, a Jobcentre or the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The employment tribunal will accept your claim only if you use the correct form and include on it all the information they need.

If your claim is because of treatment from someone you worked for, but it is not about being dismissed, you must send a written complaint to the employer, and give them 28 days to respond. If you do not do this, the employment tribunal may decide not to deal with your claim. Even if your claim is about being dismissed, you are still expected to try to resolve the matter with your employer before bringing a formal claim. If you do not do this, any compensation you are awarded may be reduced.

The employment tribunal must receive your claim within three months minus one day from the date of the discrimination. If it does not, the tribunal may decide not to look at your case, unless you have a good reason for sending it in after this time. In certain circumstances, the time limit can be extended by up to three months if you are using your employer’s internal procedures to try to resolve the matter before making the formal complaint. But time limits can be complicated and strictly applied, so seek advice if you are in any doubt.

The cost of going to a tribunal is low. Even if you lose your case, you won’t have to pay the other side’s costs unless the tribunal decides you were unreasonable in bringing or conducting the claim.

If you want to take a claim to an employment tribunal, it is also normally a good idea to fill in a DL56 form and send it to the employer. You can get this form from the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The Commission may also help you fill it in.

The form asks the employer to give more reasons for your treatment. For example, if you believe you didn’t get a job because of your disability, you can ask for details of the employer’s selection procedures, and of the qualifications and experience of the person who got the job. You must send the DL56 to the employer within three months of when the discrimination happened, or no more than 21 days after the employment tribunal received your complaint. But you must confirm on the form that it is a written complaint, otherwise it will not count as a complaint. And you will still need to comply with the time limits for bringing any claim.

You don’t have to use the DL56 procedure, but it will normally help your case. In the same way, the employer doesn’t legally have to reply to you if you use the DL56. However, it may harm their case if they don’t.

If you win your claim, the tribunal may award you compensation for:

  • any financial loss; and
  • injury to your feelings.

It can also make a formal declaration that you have been discriminated against and can make a recommendation to your employer. However, the tribunal cannot order the employer to reinstate you (give you your old job back) or re-engage you (give you another job).

You or the employer can appeal against the tribunal’s decision to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT). But you can appeal only on whether the law was applied correctly, not on whether you thought the tribunal’s decision was fair. After the employment tribunal sends you the decision, if you wish to appeal you must send a notice of appeal to the EAT within 42 days.

You do not have to be represented by a solicitor or legal adviser at an employment tribunal or EAT. However, you may be able to get free legal help and advice, or funding to cover the cost of legal representation at an EAT, depending on your circumstances. See ‘The Community Legal Service’ for how to find out more about this.

14. Going to court

15. Going to a special educational needs and disability tribunal (Sendist)

16. The Human Rights Act

17. Further help

18. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Andrew Short, a barrister at Outer Temple Chambers and specialist in discrimination law.

Leaflet Version: August 2008