Most employers will know that it is illegal to discriminate against disabled people, when either choosing someone for a job, promotion, dismissal or redundancy.  However it is not always clear what the term disability actually means, and many people who would not describe themselves as disabled are protected against discrimination.

For instance, if an employee is unfortunate enough to have cancer, HIV or multiple sclerosis they are considered disabled, under The Disability Discrimination Act 2005, from the moment of diagnosis.  Blindness or partial sightedness are also automatically covered, as are several disfigurements.  Other conditions such as heart disease and diabetes will usually be covered by the Act as well as mental health problems, provided they meet with the definition.

The penalties for business discriminating are hefty, and the repercussions for employees both financially and emotionally can be devastating.  One of the best websites to visit for information on basic rights and duties under the Disability Discrimination Acts is that of the Disability Rights Commission. The Disability Rights Commission was established in 2000 by an Act of Parliament to stop discrimination and promote equality of opportunity for disabled people.

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