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February/March 2020 (vol. 16/5)

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Expert Witness: Disability discrimination

an update on developments in the law


The interpretation of the law on disability discrimination is continually developing as the courts consider how to interpret the Equality Act 2010. Legal expert Diana Kloss discusses some recent important case law.

There continues to be debate about what amounts to disability and, in consequence, what advice should be given by an occupational health (OH) professional in response to a management referral. Although the Equality Act 2010 (EqA) includes a comprehensive definition of disability, which is supplemented by statutory guidance from the government Office for Disability Issues, new problems of interpretation regularly arise.

Disability is a physical or mental impairment, which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. It is important for OH professionals to understand the definition if they are to be competent to advise management. However, they should not make a bald statement that a worker definitely is, or is not, disabled, since that is a legal not a medical question2


Diana Kloss is a barrister, former part-time employment judge, Acas arbitrator and author.

Author: Kloss D


Occupational Health at Work February/March 2020 (vol. 16/5) pp34-36

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