This information about the equality laws is for people who live in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
If you are looking for information about disability discrimination in another country, please contact your local epilepsy organisation.
Jobs in the Armed Forces
The equality laws do not cover these jobs. This means the armed forces can refuse to employ you because you have epilepsy or a history of epilepsy.
Epilepsy Action has more information about the Armed Forces and epilepsy
Insurers can treat disabled people differently to other people, as long as they can justify their reasons.
An insurer may charge you more for travel insurance because you have epilepsy. In some cases they could refuse to insure you. They would have to prove that you are more likely to make a claim than somebody who doesn’t have epilepsy.
Epilepsy Action has more information about the equality laws and insurance.
Other reasons why people can lawfully treat you differently, if you have epilepsy
Health and safety
There has to be a good reason for a policy that discriminates against someone to be justified, for example to protect the health and safety of other people. And the reason has to carry more weight than the unfavourable treatment, and must be the only way of achieving the same aim. If health and safety reasons are given, they must be based on fact, rather than assumptions.
An employer might not give you a job that involves climbing up ladders, because you have regular seizures. This would be dangerous. They may give the job to somebody who doesn’t have seizures. This is an example of discrimination arising out of a disability. However, it would be lawful, because the employer could justify his reasons.
This could be justified if the employer or service provider would have to make unreasonable changes. What is considered reasonable will depend on how effective and practical the change would be, and the resources of the organisation concerned.
A nightclub owner might not be expected to change the strobe lighting in the club, so that somebody with photosensitive epilepsy could go. An adjustment like that could change the whole atmosphere of the club, so may be considered unreasonable.
If you would like to see this information with references, visit the Advice and Information references section of our website. If you are unable to access the internet, please contact our Epilepsy Action Helpline freephone on 0808 800 5050.
Epilepsy Action would like to thank Carl Graham, solicitor and partner in UK law firm DWF LLP for reviewing this information.
Carl Graham has declared no conflict of interest.
This information has been produced under the terms of The Information Standard.
- Updated May 2016To be reviewed May 2019