- Since this article was published, the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act have been absorbed into the Equality Act. The rights mentioned in the article still apply under the new Act.
People with MS may face a range of legal problems as a consequence of having multiple sclerosis and it can sometimes be difficult to know whether they have any legal rights they can assert to resolve these problems. This is where the Disability Law Service can come in.
The Disability Law Service (DLS) is a charity providing free, confidential legal advice to disabled people across England and Wales. Our team of specialist legal advisors and solicitors has been advising and representing people with MS for over nine years and has particular knowledge of the problems they experience.
Problems at work
In the current economic climate the greatest number of enquiries we receive concern problems at work. People often want to know whether they have to disclose their MS to an employer, and what would happen if they were dismissed or discriminated against as a result of this.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) [replaced by the Equality Act 2010] gives additional rights to disabled people in the work place and people with MS are automatically covered by this from the moment of diagnosis.
The DDA requires employers to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace where to fail to do so would place people with a disability at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled employees. Adjustments can include both alterations to the working environment, such as changes to heating or in seating position, and alterations to workplace practices, policies and procedures. DLS can give advice on what adjustments are likely to be considered reasonable in a particular situation, and on what can be done to enforce the right to these adjustments.
MS can sometimes cause cognitive problems. This may occasionally result in errors or mistakes being made at work that result in disciplinary meetings or even the threat of dismissal. DLS can provide legal advice in these situations, and on what action may be taken to challenge any disciplinary action.
Provision of services and facilities
The DDA makes it unlawful to discriminate against a disabled person when providing certain services and facilities to the public. The law requires certain premises to be accessible to disabled people, and for reasonable adjustments to be made in the provision of services and facilities. Therefore, if a person with MS is having problems accessing a restaurant or shopping centre or in using a public facility, DLS are able to provide advice on what their legal rights may be.
Further or higher education
The provision of further or higher education is also covered by the DDA. If a person requires certain concessions or adjustments in their college or university course as a result of their MS but are having a problem obtaining these, DLS will be able to provide advice on what to do to ensure these adjustments are made.
Consumer contract problems
A common problem is getting insurance claims accepted when someone has not informed their insurer beforehand of their diagnosis or their MS related symptoms. DLS can provide advice on whether the insurance company is acting lawfully and how to go about enforcing consumer rights.
Community care law
Community care law covers legal issues to do with the provision of social care, the provision of grants to assist disabled people in adapting their homes, and issues which arise when people lack mental capacity. DLS can advise on how to obtain services, how to complain about the standard of care provided by Social Services, or how to resolve a disagreement about the welfare decisions relating to someone who may not have mental capacity.
- Contacting the Disability Law Service
- DLS has an MS Legal Officer who can be contacted on 0207 791 9800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.