Direct Discrimination

An employer directly discriminates against you if he or she:
  • treats you less favourably than he or she treats or would treat a person not having your particular disability,
  • where that person’s relevant circumstances, including his abilities are the same as or not materially different from yours, and
  • the difference in treatment is on the grounds of your disability.
A claim based on direct discrimination requires a ‘comparator’, someone whose circumstances are the same or not materially difference from your own. If, on the grounds of your disability, you are treated less favourably than this comparator this will be direct discrimination.

The DRC gives the example of an employer who turns down a disabled applicant with a severe facial disfigurement because the employer considers that the other employees will be uncomfortable working with him. This will be direct discrimination.

In practice, the limited definition of discrimination means that in most cases it will be possible for an employer to claim that a comparator would have been treated in the same way. Therefore, the usefulness of a claim direct discrimination may be limited to situations where an employer stereotypes disabled people or is outwardly prejudiced towards them.
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