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Carers given immediate protection from “Coleman ruling”

The Employment Tribunal in London has ruled that protection for carers against discrimination “by association with disability” can be given under existing UK law, paving the way for carers to make immediate claims against their employers if they are treated unfairly.

Following the ruling of the European Court of Justice in July of this year in the case of carer Sharon Coleman, it was not clear whether new legislation would need to be brought in by the UK Government to give carers this protection.

In July the European Court of Justice ruled that the laws which protect disabled people against discrimination not only apply to the person themselves, but also to their carer.

If new legislation was required it would have meant that protection was only available from the future point at which the new law was brought in to force, and all current claims such as Sharon’s, would have been dropped. Sharon Coleman’s case can now proceed to a full hearing, where the facts of the case will be considered.

Commenting on the case, Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

This decision means that justice is a step nearer for Sharon Coleman, and for other carers who have been discriminated against.  Too many carers face discrimination at work, yet they are the bedrock of our communities and society. This anxiously awaited decision clarifies the law for both carers and employers.

Employers will now have to ensure that carers in their workforce are not treated differently to others employees, and cannot refuse to employ someone because of their caring role. Yet our work with employers has shown that supporting carers delivers tangible business benefits, which is critical in the current economic climate.

Government must now accept that carers are part of the equality agenda and must make sure they are fully acknowledged in the forthcoming Equality Bill. We are calling for the duty which requires public bodies to promote equality on the grounds of race, gender and disability, be extended to carers. This has been backed by the Work and Pensions Select Committee and would make a real difference to the way are treated by local authorities, health bodies and Government departments.”

Sharon Coleman said:

It is absolutely brilliant news. All the carers who have been discriminated against and have cases pending can now take their cases forward. It has been a cold and lonely journey to fight this far, but knowing that this ruling will affect millions of carers makes it worth it.”

posted by Dizali Mentha

Associate Publisher

 

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