DDA – Disability Discrimination Act

Information: In recent months there have been a number of postings from people living with RSI, who are having problems persuading their employers RSI is a disability under the DDA legislation.  A DDA Tribunal ruling has now been reported which sets a firm precedent.  Section One of the DDA 1995 provides that a disabled person is one who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

‘Long-term’ means that the disability has lasted or is expected to last, 12 months. It can be intermittent – it does not have to be continuous.  In Vicary v. British Telecommunications plc (1999 IRLR 680; EAT) The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) overruled the Employment Tribunal’s initial decision. Vicary had an upper limb condition and could not cut meat, undertake DIY tasks, do the ironing, shake quilts, polish furniture, knit, sew or cut with scissors.

The Employment Tribunal decided Vicary was not disabled in spite of not being able to do these things.  The EAT pointed out that the examples were not intended to be exhaustive and the Tribunal should have ignored any steps Vicary might be able to take to mitigate her disability. The EAT also said the decision on what constitutes disability was not a medical one and the Tribunal placed too much reliance on the views of BT’s Doctor.

While medical input to identify the restrictions on the individual is necessary, the decision on whether these amount to disability is the for the Tribunal to determine.  The EAT decided Vicary was disabled and covered by the DDA.  This is very encouraging and has been reported widely in Law Journals and the main Human Resources magazine ‘People Management’.

Answer: Interesting reading but how does this affect those of us who can now ‘officially’ be stamped as Disabled?  What advantages are there in this decision? It seems to act in the employers advantage as they can now tick a box to say they are employing another disabled person from their quota.

I’m sorry if I have missed the point by a mile here but apart from the fact that we all know that this illness can be disabling – so no new news here – what does it do for us?Can we get discounts on buying cars or other equipment? Is there a benefit we can now more easily claim?

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