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Disability discrimination - reasonable adjustments

View profile for Chris Dobbs
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The Court of Appeal has held in this case that it is not a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act 2010 to require a bus company to have a policy requiring non-wheelchair using passengers to move if occupying a space required by a wheelchair user.

Mr Paulley, a wheelchair user, was unable to take a bus due to a passenger keeping a child’s buggy in the wheelchair space. Mr Paulley argued for a reasonable adjustment changing the bus company’s unenforceable policy requesting passengers to move from the wheelchair space, to one requiring passengers to move when necessary.

The Court noted that an absolute policy would be “unworkable in practical terms” and there was no power in law for bus companies to enforce such a policy. It was therefore not a ‘reasonable adjustment’.

In Practice

This case has had widespread publicity as it appears the rights of a disabled person have not been upheld. However, the Court was looking at the practicality of the situation. A bus driver cannot actually leave his driver’s seat and manhandle a passenger away from the wheelchair area. The Court did say that Parliament should look to amend the law to improve the situation for wheelchair users. Whilst not an employment case, it is important as it does show how a court will analyse whether any possible adjustment is a reasonable one.

At Frettens, all of our solicitors offer a free initial meeting or chat on the phone to answer your questions. If this article raises issues for you or your business, please call us on 01202 499255 and Kate or Paul will be happy to discuss it with you.

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