DAA News Network

UK: Disabled volunteers have no protection from discrimination

Posted 03/2-11 at 15.34

In a landmark judgment, the Court of Appeal ruled against a woman who claimed she had been discriminated against on grounds of disability, after she was told to stop volunteering for Mid-Sussex Citizens Advice.

The decision means that unless there is a contract between the volunteer and the organisation, voluntary workers are not protected by the UK's Disability Discrimination Act.

John Wadham, from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, who supported the women's case, said "If discrimination laws don't apply to this sector it will be legal for organisations when taking on people to discriminate against groups such as the disabled or ethnic minorities.'

Jason Galbraith-Marten, the barrister representing Citizens Advice, said the verdict would be a great relief to much of the sector, whose operations inevitably depended greatly on voluntary labour.

"The cost of litigation, successful or otherwise, that would be generated from the extension of anti-discrimination rights, would be too great a financial burden for many [voluntary organisations] to bear," he said.




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