Reported rise in discrimination against cancer patients

by Redmans Solicitors on May 20, 2013

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There has been a reported rise in discrimination in the workplace in England and Wales against workers suffering from cancer.

A reported commissioned by MacMillan Cancer Support has concluded that there has been a significant rise in reported discrimination in the workplace against those currently and previously receiving treatment for cancer.

The research by Macmillan found that:

  • 37% of people who return to work after cancer treatment say they experience some form of discrimination in the workplace
  • 9% of people who return to work after cancer treatment felt seriously harassed by colleagues or third parties in the workplace
  • 13% of people who return to work after cancer treatment allege that their employer failed to make reasonable changes to enable them to do their job

The above statistics reportedly demonstrate a rise in the reported discrimination in the workplace from a similar survey carried out in 2010. For example, the number of people reporting that they suffered from some form of discrimination due to their cancer treatment rose from 23% to 37%.

Under the Equality Act 2010 discriminating against or harassing workers or employees because of their disability is unlawful. There are a number of forms of protection available to workers or employees who believe that they are suffering detrimental and/or unfair treatment because they are suffering from / have suffered from cancer, including:

  1. A claim for direct discrimination in the Employment Tribunal
  2. A claim for indirect discrimination in the Employment Tribunal
  3. A claim for discrimination arising from disability in the Employment Tribunal
  4. A claim in the Employment Tribunal for their employer’s failure to make reasonable adjustments
  5. A claim in the Employment Tribunal for disability-related harassment

Further, if you think that you’ve been subjected to a detriment because you’ve made a complaint – or threatened to make a complaint – of discrimination or harassment to the Employment Tribunal then you may also have a claim for “victimisation”. These issues  can be quite factually complex so it’s worth potentially taking employment law advice.

Macmillan’s chief executive officer, Mr Ciaran Devane, commented on the report that “employers are risking prosecution by flouting their legal responsibility to protect people living with cancer from unfair treatment and stigma at work” and that “there needs to be far more understanding of cancer and how the effects of treatment may impact on people returning to work”. Mr Paul Ware, a former cancer sufferer, also commented for the report that the discrimination that he suffered because of his disability was a “shock” and that his dismissal and the Employment Tribunal process was a “soul-destroying experience”.

Chris Hadrill, employment solicitor at Redmans, commented: “This report from Macmillan shows the challenges potentially posed to former and current cancer-sufferers returning to the labour force in England and Wales. It’s important that employers recognise their obligation to refrain from discriminating against or harassing cancer-sufferers because of their disability.

If you think that you’ve suffered from or are suffering from discrimination or harassment in the workplace because of your disability then you should get expert employment law advice from a specialist form of solicitors to protect your position. It’s important to do so as quickly as possible as there’s a three month less one day time limit from the date of discrimination to make a complaint to the Employment Tribunal.

Redmans Solicitors are compromise agreement solicitors based in London

 

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