Neil Andrews - Partner, Coles Miller

Dyslexia And Other Disability Discrimination Pitfalls17th Feb 2016

by on 17th Feb 2016

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Dyslexia poses a discrimination risk for employers – as highlighted by a recent employment tribunal case, warn Dorset solicitors Coles Miller.

The tribunal found that Starbucks had discriminated against an employee who had problems reading, writing and telling the time.Neil Andrews

It demonstrates how wide-ranging disability protection rules have now become, said Coles Miller employment law solicitors.

“Employers tend to be more aware of the special requirements of employees with physical disabilities but they must also take account of less visible impairments,” said Coles Miller’s Neil Andrews.

The Equality Act 2010 stipulates that a person can be considered disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment with a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

“That is quite a wide-ranging definition, as the recent dyslexia case shows. It applies not just to employees but also to job applicants,” said Mr Andrews.

“Employers must demonstrate they have made reasonable adjustments to accommodate employees. What is ‘reasonable’ is decided objectively by an employment tribunal.”

Reasonable adjustments can include:

  • providing information in accessible formats (such as Braille)
  • allocating some of a disabled person’s duties to another person
  • changing their working or training hours
  • assigning them to a different place of work or training
  • allowing absences for rehabilitation, assessment or treatment
  • providing modified equipment
  • modifying test procedures (such as providing an oral test rather than a written test)
  • adjusting performance-related pay to reflect any extra breaks needed.

“But simply making changes may not be enough – the manner in which the changes are made is also important,” said Mr Andrews.

“Adjustments such as retraining or a change in working hours should be carried out in a way which the employee feels is supportive, rather than disciplinary.”

For more information, contact Neil Andrews of Coles Miller, 01202 355695.

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