Equality Act 2010 - Know your Rights!

Many people with epilepsy complain of being harassed or discriminated against in everyday life, at work, in education or even when just popping to the shops,but you don't have to 'put up and shut up'. Angie King of the Epilepsy Society explains how the Equality Act 2010 protects you from discrimination

In October 2010 the Equality Act was introduced to replace and bring together nine previous laws including the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA), aimed at protecting people from discrimination.The Equality Act 2010 states that someone has a disability if they have 'a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.' Here 'substantial' means it is difficult to carry out activities compared to someone without a disability. 'Long-term' means at least 12 months. 'Day-to-day activities' include being able to get around, hear, see, remember and concentrate.As epilepsy is both a physical and long-term condition, people who have the condition are protected under the Equality Act even if seizures are controlled and they do not consider themselves to be 'disabled'.

Know your rights in everyday life

If you have epilepsy, the Equality Act 2010 protects you from discrimination and harassment in all areas of life. Protection is also given to anyone who is discriminated against because of their association with someone who has epilepsy


The Equality Act 2010 protects from several different types of discrimination in terms of employment, but does not cover volunteers.

Direct discrimination This includes

Perceived discrimination

where someone — such as a person with epilepsy —is treated unfairly because it is assumed that they have a disability which affects their ability to carry out day to day activities.

Associative discrimination where someone is treated unfairly because they are connected to someone else with a disability.

Harassment where a person is treated differently because of a disability, in a way that is humiliating or offensive.

Indirect discrimination

is where treating everyone the same puts someone with a disability at a disadvantage. For example, a rule that 'everyone must use the stairs' is unfair for people who use wheelchairs.

Discrimination arising from disability is where someone is treated unfairly because of something connected with their disability. For example, someone with a visual impairment is told they can't bring their guide dog to work.

Failure to make reasonable adjustments

Reasonable adjustments are changes that employers are expected to make so that a person with a disability is not put at disadvantage. For example time off work for medical appointments should be recorded separately from sick leave; shift work should be avoided if your seizures are brought on by tiredness.

Victimisation This is treating someone unfairly because they have complained about any type of discrimination. This can be complaining on behalf of themselves or another.


Pupils, students and adult learners have rights under the Act too. It is unlawful for education providers to discriminate against anyone with a disability.


The Equality Act covers your right not to be discriminated against or harassed on access to health and social services including doctors' surgeries and hospitals.


People with epilepsy are entitled not to be discriminated against in the use of transport.


People providing a public service such as workers in councils and shops are not allowed to treat people less favourably because they have a disability.

Find out more at http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/DisabledPeople/ RightsAndObligations/ DisabilityRights/ Da_4001068

Or read

Epilepsy Society's employment leaflet available here

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