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An often overlooked and misunderstood aspect of the protections offered by the Equality Act is the concept of associated disability discrimination. It is something that both employers and employees need to be aware of.

An employer must not directly discriminate against or harass an employee based on their association with a protected characteristic. If an employee is either harassed or treated less favourably not because of their own protected characteristic, but because of their association with a person with a protected characteristic, they are now protected.Associative discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 applies to race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age, disability, gender reassignment and sex.
 
The most important case of late, is that of Coleman v Attridge Law 2008, which was the catalyst for changes to legislation. Mrs Coleman’s son was born with a disability, a condition that led to severe breathing difficulties requiring specialised care. She was her son’s primary carer. She believed her employer did not want her to return to work after her maternity leave, and 3 years after her son’s birth, she took voluntary redundancy.
 
Mrs Coleman subsequently alleged constructive discriminatory dismissal and harassment on grounds of disability. She argued that because of her association with a disabled person and the manner in which she was treated, she was left with no option but to take voluntary redundancy.  Mrs Coleman’s victory widened the scope of associative discrimination from applying to race, religion or belief and sexual orientation, to disability and all diversity strands from both an employment and service delivery perspective.
 
If you think you have been subject to discrimination on the basis of being associated with someone with a protected characteristic, please phone Ashley Hunt, Vaishali Thakerar or Carrie-Ann Randall on 0116 212 1000 or complete the form on the right. Lawson-West offer free initial consultations so it won't cost you a penny to find out if you have a claim.
 
We also run a number of free walk-in advice clinics at our offices in Leicester, Wigston & Market Harborough.Lawson-West will make sure that your disability discrimination claim is funded on the most appropriate basis and that will often be on a No Win No Fee basis. This means that Lawson-West have a vested interest in ensuring your employment claim is successful.