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Disability Discrimination Act - different types of disability discrimination

This information about the Disability Discrimination Act applies to people in Northern Ireland. If you live in England, Scotland or Wales see our information about the Equality Act.

If you are looking for information about disability discrimination in another country, please contact your local epilepsy organisation.

Direct discrimination

This happens when:

  • Somebody treats you less well than somebody else and
  • The treatment is because you have epilepsy or care for someone with epilepsy

Examples of direct discrimination:

A landlord will not rent a flat to you because you have epilepsy. They will rent the flat to someone else who doesn’t have epilepsy.

A taxi driver refuses to give you a lift because you have epilepsy. Your friend doesn’t have epilepsy and the taxi driver will take him.

Disability-related discrimination

This happens when:

  • Somebody treats you less well than another person who doesn’t have epilepsy and
  • The treatment is related to you having epilepsy and
  • They knew, or should have known, that you had the condition and
  • They can’t give a fair reason for the unfair treatment

A fair reason for the treatment has to be something relevant and important, not something trivial.   

Examples of discrimination arising from disability:

You have a long absence from work because of your epilepsy. Your employer dismisses you because of that absence, even though they could have covered your work duties during your absence.

A restaurant owner refuses to serve you because they fear that it will upset the other customers if you have a seizure.

A college refuses to admit you because you have epilepsy. They think that if you have a seizure it will disrupt lessons.

Failure to make a reasonable adjustment

Sometimes, people or organisations may need to make a reasonable adjustment. This is to make sure that you are not put at a substantial disadvantage to other people, just because you have epilepsy. Failure to make this adjustment could be illegal under the DDA. The person or organisation that has the duty to make the adjustment is not allowed to pass any cost of making them to you.

Reasonable adjustments can include:

  • Making changes to a rule, requirement or practice
  • Making changes to buildings or premises
  • Providing equipment that will help you

Examples of reasonable adjustment:

A teacher gives you written lesson notes because you had a seizure during a lesson.

A restaurant gives you a table where there is less risk of injury if you had a seizure. (For example, at the edge of a room, out of the path of the people serving food.) 

An employer could allow you to start and finish work later than other employees, if you usually have seizures first thing in the morning, provided this fits in with their working practices.

Harassment

This happens when somebody behaves towards you in a way you don’t want, such as taunting or bullying, and the behaviour has the purpose or effect of:

  • Violating your dignity (failing to treat you in a respectful way) or
  • Creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for you

Your employer has a duty to protect you from harassment by the people you work with. If your colleagues bully you because of your epilepsy, your employer may be considered responsible for this.

The DDA also protects your family and friends. They must not be harassed or treated unfairly because you have epilepsy.

An example of harassment:

You have epilepsy and see an epilepsy specialist during work hours. Your colleagues make abusive and insulting comments about you, because your epilepsy has caused you to have time off work.

Victimisation

This is when:

  • Somebody treats you less well than other people, because you have complained, or intend to complain about disability discrimination or harassment or
  • They treat you less well because you have helped someone else to complain about disability discrimination or harassment

An example of victimisation:

You are not invited to office social events because you supported a colleague when they complained about discrimination at work.

Your employer has a duty to protect you from harassment by the people you work with. If your colleagues bully you because of your epilepsy, your employer may be considered responsible for this.

Code: 
F101.02
Event Date: 
Friday 13 May 2016 - 09:46

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.

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