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The tide is turning in disability discrimination law

The courts’ increasingly liberal approach to article 15 claims places a greater onus on employers to provide objective justification for discrimination, says Karen Jackson

8 November 2016

The Equality Act 2010 introduced section 15 disability discrimination to reverse the effect of Lewisham v Malcolm [2008] UKHL 43, which, although a housing case, drove a coach and horses through the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, as amended. Employers could justify any discriminatory treatment provided they could show the treatment was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. The provision was deliberately loose but could be tempered by a justification defence.

Section 15 is an entirely new provision which goes much further in disability-related discrimination. In the last two years, more decisions have come through the courts around this. Previously, most disability cases were pleaded under sections 20 and 21 of the 2010 Act as failures in the duty to make reasonable adjustments.

Section 15 discrimination

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