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Disability Discrimination: Information and Legal Cases

  • Synopsis: Last Updated: 2017-07-06 - Information and legal articles regarding Disability Discrimination in society including the workplace

Definition: Disability Discrimination

Disability discrimination is defined as discrimination against the disabled. Ableism means discrimination action against people based on the physical ability of their body especially against people with disabilities (Definitions of Disability) in favor of people who are not disabled. An ableist society is said to be one that treats non-disabled individuals as the standard of "normal living", which results in public and private places and services, education, and social work that are built to serve 'standard' people, thereby inherently excluding those with various disabilities. Not everyone with a medical condition is protected by the law. In order to be protected, a person must be qualified for the job and have a disability as defined by the law. The Disability Discrimination Act says a disabled person is someone with a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

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Disability Discrimination Laws: In many countries it is now against the law to discriminate against disabled people in various areas of their lives.

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, a number of countries have passed laws aimed at reducing discrimination against people with disabilities. These laws have begun to appear as the notion of civil rights has become more influential globally, and follow other forms of anti-discrimination and equal opportunity legislation aimed at preventing racial discrimination and sexism which began to emerge in the second half of the 20th century.

The presumption that everyone is non-disabled is said to encourage environments that are inaccessible to disabled people. It is a system by which mainstream society denigrates, devalues, and thus oppresses those with disabilities, while privileging those without disabilities, according to those who describe ableism circumstances.

For example, it is against the law to discriminate against disabled people at work, and when providing goods, facilities and services. There is also protection against discrimination for disabled people who are renting or buying property, and in education.

The law also protects people from discrimination based on their relationship with a person with a disability (even if they do not themselves have a disability). For example, it is illegal to discriminate against an employee because her husband has a disability.

Definition of Inclusion:

Inclusion, comparatively, means that all products, services, and societal opportunities and resources are fully accessible, welcoming, functional and usable for as many different types of abilities as reasonably possible. An ableist society tends towards isolation, pity, paternalism and low self-esteem among people with disabilities, whereas an inclusive society tends toward sociability and interdependency between the able-bodied and disabled.

Disability Discrimination at Work:

It is against the law for an employer:

  • to harass you if you are disabled, for example, by making jokes about your disability
  • not to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace to enable you to work or to continue to work.
  • to treat you less favorably because of your disability - including recruitment and selection, terms and conditions, dismissal and redundancy.
  • to discriminate directly against you if you are disabled or because you are associated with someone who is disabled, for example, your partner or child.
  • to victimize you if you take legal action because of discrimination against you, or if you help someone else to take legal action because of discrimination.

Employers can treat disabled people less favorably only if they have a sufficiently justifiable reason for doing so, and only if the problem cannot be overcome by making 'reasonable adjustments'. For example, an employer would be justified in rejecting someone with severe back pain for a job as a carpet fitter, as they cannot carry out the essential requirements of the job.

Examples of the types of adjustments that an employer might make include:

  • making physical adjustments to the premises
  • transferring you to a different post or work place
  • supplying special equipment to help you do your job
  • altering your hours of work or giving you extra time off.

List of Disability Discrimination Acts:

Quick Facts: Disability Discrimination

  • 63% of references to mental health in TV soaps and drama are pejorative, flippant or unsympathetic.
  • The EEOC recently reported that sexual harassment claims by men increased from 8% to 16% in the last 20 years. Moreover, the number of gender discrimination claims filed by men has similarly increased.
  • Recent EEOC statistics reveal that the number of claims for pregnancy discrimination has increased by 30%, while claims of all other types of employment discrimination has increased by 25%. This may be accounted for by the increase in the number of women in the workforce; women's increasing awareness of their legal rights; and employers' concomitant lack of awareness and/or respect for the rights of pregnant women.


Latest Discrimination Publications

  1. Diallo's Nightclub Sued: Fired Employee for Not Providing HIV Test Result
  2. Joyce Banda Promotes Disability Rights at Washington Harkin Summit
  3. Disability Hate Crime Within the UK - Estimated Incident Rates Not Decreasing
  4. Reintroducing 'Hate' Back Into 'Hate Crime': Hate Crime Committed Against Intellectual Disability
  5. U.S. Department of Justice Sues Georgia for Segregating Students with Disability


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