Helping a woman with mental health conditions access justice (XX v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions)
A woman has mental health issues and claimed Employment and Support Allowance. She was referred to the Work Programme, which involves work-focused interviews and activities designed to improve people’s chances of finding work. She found it difficult to attend these because no adjustments had been made for her mental health impairments. She experienced deterioration in her health as a result of attempting to carry out the mandatory activities. She brought claims for failure to make reasonable adjustments and indirect disability discrimination.
A disabled man was unable to board a bus because a passenger with a pushchair refused to vacate the wheelchair space. The man successfully brought a claim for discrimination against the bus company. The company appealed twice in the Supreme Court, which is where our involvement began.
Are British civilians employed by the MoD in Cyprus protected by the Equality Act? (Holloway & Ors v Ministry of Defence)
A group of British civilians working on a military base in Cyprus brought claims of discrimination against the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Before considering their claim, the Employment Tribunal had to decide whether GB equality laws applied to this group of workers. The first Employment Tribunal found that the Equality Act did apply to them. However, the MoD successfully challenged this in the Employment Appeal Tribunal. This meant that the case was remitted to the ET to be reconsidered.
Self-employment: protecting the equality rights of self-employed people (Pimlico Plumbers and another v Smith )
We know that some companies have people working for them who are technically self-employed.
This meant that thousands of workers did not enjoy some of the employment rights and protections that employees do.
We supported a man who had worked on a self-employed basis for the same firm for six years.
When the firm refused to make adjustments to his work after a heart attack, he successfully took his disability discrimination case to the Employment Tribunal.
The firm appealed, arguing that the man was not protected by the Equality Act 2010.
Ensuring schools make entrance exams accessible for disabled children (X v Proprietor of Reading School)
A pupil with a vision impairment was unable to sit an entry exam (11+) to a grammar school when the adjustments he needed weren’t made. The successful outcome from this case clarified who is responsible for making reasonable adjustments and improved the accessibility of entrance exams.
We funded a case challenging the Secretary of State for Justice’s decision to make PAVA spray available in prisons during the coronavirus pandemic, before agreed safeguards were in place. As a result of the action, the use of PAVA will be more tightly controlled and monitored. This should help prevent disproportionate use against prisoners sharing particular protected characteristics and improve scrutiny and accountability.
Helping disabled tenants to make reasonable adjustments to their homes (Andrew Smailes, Stacey Poyner-Smailes and Clewer Court Residents Ltd )
A disabled woman needed to make reasonable adjustments to her home, but because she was renting, they were refused by the landlord. We successfully funded this case to clarify whether a term in the lease prohibiting alterations is contrary to the Equality Act.
In August 2020, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) entered into a legally binding agreement with us to improve support for deaf customers accessing its services by telephone, and to improve its approach to providing reasonable adjustments for other disabled customers. The agreement was for a period of 12 months and has now concluded.