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Employment - before October 2010

This page outlines very briefly employment rights under the DDA, assuming your stammer is a 'disability' within the DDA. For more detail, including cases, see Employment FAQs.

Link to BSA website:
- Employment page has guidance beyond your legal rights.
Practically anything to do with employment is covered, including recruitment, promotion, transfers, dismissals, redundancy, training or other benefits.

What is unlawful? -

Direct discrimination: Examples include simple prejudice, or probably where an employer makes stereotypical assumptions about what someone who stammers can do, without looking at the person's individual abilities. The employer has no 'justification' defence.

From the Code of Practice: Employment and Occupation:

"A man with a stammer feels he is being harassed because his manager makes constant jokes about people with speech impairments. He asks his manager to stop doing this, but the manager says he is being 'oversensitive' as he habitually makes jokes in the office about many different sorts of people. This is likely to amount to harassment ..." Para. 4.39

"An employer sets candidates a short oral test. An applicant is disabled by a severe stammer, but only under stress. It is likely to be a reasonable adjustment to allow her more time to complete the test. Alternatively, it may be a reasonable adjustment to give the test in written form instead - though not if excellent oral communication skills are necessary for the job and assessing those skills was the purpose of the test.." Para. 7.25

Failure to make reasonable adjustments: The employer's duty to make reasonable adjustments is very important - both at interviews and on the job. Tribunal cases have been brought successfully on stammering and recruitment. See Examples of reasonable adjustments, which includes the tribunal cases.

Harassment: The Employment Code of Practice includes an example specifically on stammering (see right).

Disability-related discrimination: Broadly, this is where an employer treats you less favourably for a 'reason related to' your stammer. It was intended to be wider than 'direct discrimination, with the employer having a defence if he shows the treatment is 'justified'. A House of Lords decision in June 2008 has significantly restricted the usefulness of disability-related discrimination - though its effect on stammering has yet to be established.

Victimisation: Protecting people who brought or have been involved in proceedings under the DDA.

Some individual points:

There is much more detail on employment rights on Employment FAQs, and the pages linked from it. For public authorities, the disability equality duty as well as the normal employment rules is likely to apply.

Also people who stammer may want to watch out for the 'Two ticks' Positive about disabled people symbol. Amongst other things, employers who have signed up to it guarantee disabled people an interview if they meet the minimum criteria for the job vacancy

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Last updated 27th June, 2010