A COMPANY has launched a campaign to stamp out disability discrimination.

The employment law team at Martin Searle Solicitors says disabled people continue to lose out in the workplace.

And it says the discrimination is particularly rife in relation to mental health issues.

Now the firm, which has offices across the county, is setting up a free legal advice clinic for both employers and staff.

It also includes a free telephone advice service for anyone concerned about their disability workplace rights or obligations.

Fiona Martin, director and head of employment law, said: “It says a lot about the poor state of our working culture that disability discrimination is still a common feature.

“This is partly due to employers’ lack of knowledge about their duties to make reasonable adjustments.

“However, we are also seeing employers cynically target employees receiving full contractual pay on long-term sick leave.

“HR departments are dismissing, without following a fair ill health capability process, and are fully aware that they are not fulfilling their legal obligations in order to save money.”

She said that mental health problems mean that for some people the careers of many disabled employees are blighted, some of whom may have only recently become disabled, according to the Equality Act’s criteria.

This is a physical or mental impairment, where the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on this person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

She said: “We are still encountering cases of disability discrimination on a weekly basis and this appears to be increasing since the introduction of employment tribunal fees.

“Some employers may be aware that fees deter employees from bringing claims. However, what they are not factoring in is the drop in morale when other employees’ see their vulnerable colleagues treated unfairly.

“Equality in the workplace underpins good employment relations and ensures fairness. Employment disability legislation has been put in place to provide an ‘equal playing field’ so disabled people are not disadvantaged. Unfortunately, this legislation is being ignored.

“Stereotyped views, where disabled employees are viewed negatively, ignores the fact that many of us may become ‘disabled’ at some point in our working life, whether this be through physical injury or mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.

“Where these adjustments have been exhausted, an employer might have to dismiss for ill health capability. But this should be last resort in order to be fair and also to be able to defend such action in an employment tribunal.”Throughout October, expert employment lawyers will provide half an hour of free advice on disability rights and responsibilities, including the right to, and the obligation to make reasonable adjustments.