I think employers may be turning my applications down because of my disability. What can I do?

If you think you fit the job specification and are not getting a fair chance at an interview, you should ask for feedback on your application. While employers are not obliged to provide feedback, some may be helpful and could point to areas where you need to improve. In today’s climate, competition for jobs is fierce and even the smallest mistake can count against you.

If you still feel that you have not been given a legitimate reason for your application being rejected, you can pursue the matter further.

You may want to ask direct questions to the employer about its employment practices and how they have been applied to you. The Acas guide Asking and responding to questions of discrimination in the workplace (PDF, 164KB) contains useful guidance on asking questions.

The Acas guidance suggests a six-step approach for potential claimants considering a claim under the Equality Act 2010:

  1. Set out the questioner’s and responder’s details.
  2. Identify the protected characteristic you want to invoke – in this case, disability.
  3. Describe what happened to you.
  4. Describe the type of discrimination you experienced.
  5. Explain why you think what happened was unlawful.
  6. Add any additional questions you would like to ask.

It is unlawful for an employer to reject an applicant because of disability (real or perceived), or refuse to make reasonable adjustments.

With a few narrow exceptions, it is against the law to ask questions to job applicants about their health – including whether they have a disability and about their previous sickness absence record – before offering them a role. One exception allows the employer to ask about disability in order to make reasonable adjustments to the interview arrangements.

A few employers may display the government’s Disability Confident badge, a scheme that is intended to promote employment opportunities for disabled people.

There are dedicated employment agencies and organisations set up to assist disabled people in finding work – for example, Remploy and Purple.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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