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If you are deaf or have hearing loss, you may be considered disabled under The Equality Act 2010, which means it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against you because of this disability.

The Equality Act covers full-time, part-time and temporary employment as well as work experience placements. It also applies to job applications and interviews.

Firstly, your employer must understand what your disability is, and what they need to do to ensure you can undertake your role. This can include providing equipment to help you participate fully at work and providing communication support for interviews or meetings.

Your employer must also ensure they provide fair access when considering promotions and transfers, dismissal and redundancy, discipline and grievances.

Reasonable adjustments

Your employer has a duty to carry out enquiries to ensure that all suitable reasonable adjustments are made to help you undertake your role.

There are a number of ways that your employer can investigate this including involving Occupational Health and Access to Work through Job Centre Plus.  Some employers choose to offer deaf awareness training to help other staff members overcome communication barriers. Other adjustments can include providing:

  • a telephone typewriter, which allows a person with a hearing impairment to type a telephone conversation instead of speaking.
  • audio loop: a wire loop that goes round a particular area (e.g a conference room) and provides amplified sounds to a hearing aid;
  • FM and infrared listening systems, which have multiple personal receivers that can be fitted with headphones or 'neck loops' for hearing aid wearers (e.g. in meetings or training sessions).
If you're applying for a job, an employer is obliged to make reasonable adjustments to ensure fair access to things such as:
  1. application forms
  2. interview processes
  3. any practical tests.

Making a claim

If your employer does not consult with you, carry out the necessary checks and investigations and make any reasonable adjustments required, your work may suffer. In some circumstances you may find that you are dismissed on the basis that you are unable to carry out the role. If this is the case then you may be entitled to claim against your employer for disability discrimination.

There is no minimum length of employment required to bring a claim at the Employment Tribunal, but it is important to lodge your claim within 3 months of the act of discrimination occurring. It is therefore essential that you take legal advice on your situation at an early stage and as soon as possible.

If you think you have been subject to discrimination on the basis of deafness or hearing loss, 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.

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.