British DDA Update
The Disability Discrimination Bill is awaiting its third reading in the House of Lords, on the 28th February, following major gains for the DRC and the Disability Lobby at report stage.
The Bill fulfils a key Government manifesto commitment to create comprehensive rights for disabled people. It will give new rights of access to public transport and private clubs, give disabled tenants rights to reasonable adjustments from their landlords and extend the definition of disability to cover more mental health service users and people with HIV, cancer and MS.
Disabled councillors will have protection against discrimination for the first time. And the centrepiece of the Bill is a new disability equality duty for the public sector, which will help break down institutional discrimination across public services.
Disability organisations have successfully pursued amendments on housing adaptations, action against harassment and bullying and better scrutiny of exemptions from the rail vehicle accessibility regulations.
All three equality commissions have welcomed a landmark Court of Appeal decision strengthening the Burden of Proof regulations. The judgement has made it clear that if an individual has established that there could be a valid case of discrimination, employers are expected to provide detailed evidence to prove that they did not discriminate. Evidence needs to show that an employer's actions were in no way related to an employee's sex, race, disability, sexual orientation or religion/belief in order to defeat these claims.