Dyslexia Disability

The leading case on dyslexia disability is the case of:
Patterson v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2007] IRLR 763

See also:
Charles v BT [2017]

See Also
Kumulchew v Starbucks [2015]

Dyslexia is covered by the Equality Act 2010, so employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for dyslexic staff members in the workplace.

If a person with a disability feels they have been discriminated against they may want to take their case to an Employment Tribunal. If they win the case, they may be able to claim for financial loss and damages for injuries to feelings. The Tribunal may instruct the employer to make a reasonable adjustment to enable the dyslexic person to work.

Where an employee is diagnosed with dyslexia, perhaps being discovered in school, a duty would be triggered on the employer to make reasonable adjustments. This could mean accessing software in order to assist with word processing in day-to-day computer use, using technology to assist with reading or processing numbers and also reassigning duties which are directly affected by the condition. In any event, discussions should take place with the employee to ensure that the employee’s strengths are utilised in the best possible way and duties affected are compensated for by reassigning them to others. A failure to make reasonable adjustments may result in the work being done ineffectively, with anxiety and distress caused to the employee and also exposing the employer to a claim.

A good starting point for what reasonable adjustment is appropriate is to discuss this with the employee. There are various consultants and medical bodies as well as dyslexia help groups who can also advise on adjustments and strategies to assist the employer and the employee. It is quite clear that doing nothing is not an option, would be bad for business and bad for the employee. Bearing in mind that a disability is a protected characteristic which is actionable under the Equality Act, employers should ensure that there is no banter or teasing in relation to employees’ dyslexia which could amount to harassment and also a significant claim by the employee.

Where an employer is considering performance management or disciplinary processes in respect of an employee with dyslexia, legal advice should always be sought.

It’s estimated by Dyslexia Action that 6.3 million people in the UK have the learning difficulty dyslexia, which is around 1 in 10.

Therefore, it is likely your business currently employs or will employ someone with dyslexia.

Under the Equality Act 2010, dyslexia is classed as a disability. This means, to prevent discrimination and comply with the Act, you are required to make suitable adjustments if people with dyslexia require it.

What is Dyslexia Discrimination?

Discriminating against someone with dyslexia in the workplace means that you haven’t provided the necessary tools for them to apply for a job, or fulfil their job role, without difficulty – particularly if they have requested it.

Dyslexia discrimination is often unintentional. When employers lack dyslexia awareness and simply provide everyone with the same basic tools and information, they inadvertently put people with dyslexia at a disadvantage. Despite lack of intention, it is discrimination nonetheless.

This is why the best way to prevent dyslexia discrimination is by making adjustments from the very start. At the very least, businesses should make it clear to newly-hired employees – perhaps in the employee handbook – that should anyone need support for a disability, the company will provide it on request.

Employers must take action if someone with dyslexia reveals their disability, especially if they specifically ask for adjustments and supportive resources. In accordance with the Equality Act 2010, it’s illegal to refuse any reasonable request, such as proofreading software.

Managers should also be perceptive to how employees get on with tasks. If team members appear to struggle with an element of their job and you suspect it could be linked to dyslexia, you can make reasonable accommodations to help with those challenges, such as assistive software. Be careful not to make assumptions though; always talk to the person about their struggles first and see what they’d like to do.

Most adjustments are very affordable and easy to implement. Simple adjustments are well-worth the investment if they enable employees with dyslexia to work to their full capacity. Plus, having multiple options for accessing information can even benefit those without dyslexia.

If you need any assistance call 0191.4862799 or email jbrown@nechambers.co.uk 

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