Experiences of discrimination of disability in the workplace in the UK

Background reading:

According to the Equality Act 2010, disability is either a mental or physical impairment, which has a long-term or substantial negative impact on one’s ability to complete the usual daily activities (Fell and Dyban, 2017). This 2010 equality act protects all individuals in the UK from all forms of discrimination including that is done because of sexual orientation, age, and race, from unequal treatment (Fell and Dyban, 2017). Therefore, all employers must be responsible by making the necessary adjustments to make sure that all disabled individuals are not at a disadvantage compared to non-disabled staff because of their mental or physical impairment, especially when it does not affect their job performance (Fell and Dyban, 2017).


Millions of people working in Britain live with different forms of disability and other health conditions but are still highly skilled and when they are discriminated against, the job market of the UK misses out on a significant number of dedicated and high-quality staff (International Labour Organization, 2010). Evidence suggests that some employers are usually anxious to employ people with disability, wondering whether they will be able to do their jobs (International Labour Organization, 2010). Some employers believe that following the adjustments to care for the disabled individuals in the workplace is expensive to achieve (International Labour Organization, 2010). There are different situations that individuals with disability often feel that they are being treated unjustly or unfairly, including being directly discriminated, the kind of discrimination which arises from the disability, victimisation, indirect discrimination, harassment and the company or organisation failing to make the necessary reasonable adjustments to facilitate their smooth or normal operations (International Labour Organization, 2010).


The aim of this research is to examine how disabled people experience discrimination at their jobs. The research’s aim is to determine whether disabled individuals feel like they are being treated fairly in the workplace and if their workplaces promote diversity and equality.


Two individuals, one male and one female, working in a popular UK company were asked to answer 10 interview questions each. A pilot for the questions was initially tested in class practice to ensure that they were relevant to the research area and not offensive to the employees with disabilities to be interviewed. The employees were both in the working age and had physical impairment that do not limit the performance of their duties. The male was an accountant has been in company A for 3 years while the female is a receptionist that has worked in the same company for 5 years.

Direct discrimination

The male accountant noted that during his period of employment period in the company, he has experience direct discrimination, where other employees have refused to corporate or work with him in group projects in the company. He said that,

“I have occasionally been isolated by my colleagues who often are not willing to include me in their group projects and activities, especially those done for the community, like cleaning the community or even sporting activities for the company. I have also sometimes felt like some of my colleagues look down upon me and laugh at my condition because I cannot do things as fast as they can or walk as quickly as they can.”

The female receptionist also highlighted being laughed at on some occasions by her female colleagues and gossiped about. She said,

“One of my female colleague and friend has told me of how she found two other female colleague workers gossiping about me and laughing at my condition. This really made me feel bad.”

Failure to put in place the necessary appropriate adjustments in the company

Both of the participants noted that since their employment, the company has promised putting in place some adjustments, like the construction or installing of access ramps for the disabled. This has forced individuals with physical disability to work on the ground floor because the company also has no lifts to move individuals to the upper floors. The company also promised adjustable chairs and tables for easy use, something that is yet to be realised.

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The male accountant said,

“Imagine that since I got employed hear, I have never gone to the first floor offices. All my time in this company has involved working at the ‘ground level!’”

Meanwhile, the female receptionist said,

“We have been promised many things. However, I still use the tall tables and difficult to climb chairs to work, which are very uncomfortable”.


Individuals with disability still face different forms of discrimination in the workplace. Their colleagues have not yet accepted that there is nothing wrong with being disabled when it does not limit your ability to complete your tasks. Additionally, individuals with disability are still finding it difficult to complete their tasks well or feel as part of the team because of the failure of the companies to make appropriate changes to facilitate their smooth working. These findings support International Labour Organization (2010) report that highlight the various forms of discrimination that disabled individuals experience in the workplace, including victimisation, indirect discrimination, harassment and the company or organisation failing to make the necessary reasonable adjustments. I would like to research further on the challenges that disabled individuals experience in acquiring leadership positions in organisations.


1. What is your position?

2. How long have been working in this position?

3. What do you find interesting about the job?

4. Do you feel like you are receiving equal treatment in the workplace?

5. Have experienced discrimination in the workplace?

6. How do you think the company is being unfair to you? If any?

7. Do you believe your company is embracing employee diversity?

8. Have you ever complained about an issue touching on being discriminated to the company’s leadership?

9. Is the amount you are paid and the benefits fair or do you feel like the company is underpaying you because of your disability?

10. What would you like to be done to make your work more comfortable based on your disability?


It was quite challenging to interview the participants because they got emotional at some point, showing just how discrimination affects their wellbeing in the workplace. Through the research, I have learned how to conduct a research and referencing. I have learned how to come up with a research question and critically evaluate the issue.


Fell, E.V. and Dyban, M., 2017. Against Discrimination: Equality Act 2010 (UK). The European Proceedings of Social & Behavioural Sciences (EpSBS). Vol. 19: Lifelong Wellbeing in the World (WELLSO 2016).—Nicosia, 2017. 192016, pp.188-194.

International Labour Organization, 2010. Disability in the workplace: Company practices. Bureau for Employers’ Activities and Skills and Employability Department.

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