Face coverings discrimination rife

We are inundated by an avalanche of enquiries from people discriminated against for being unable to wear face coverings.  Please bear with us while we work through the back-log. 

Many of the incidents are harrowing and frightening and suggest deeply disablist attitudes are rife in society.  The current situation has sinister historical parallels.  Many people appear to believe that putting on a face covering makes them superior whereas those unable to wear one are inferior to them.

The following may help.

The reason for the Government's face coverings exemption policy is to ensure compliance with anti-discrimination legislation.  The Government is clear that "the rules" do not require everyone to wear face coverings: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/disabled-people-exempt-from-wearing-face-coverings-under-new-government-guidance .

Here is a template letter you may find helpful.  It is only suitable for England and Wales but could be adapted.  Please note the Equality Act 2010 does not apply in Northern Ireland but there is the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 instead. 

Please also note there are no county courts in Scotland but there are sheriff courts instead.

More information can be obtained from:

https://www.equalityni.org/Individuals/I-have-a-problem-with-a-service/Disability/Complaints-process

 

Please bear in mind there is usually a six month time limit to make a discrimination claim.

There is a chance you may be insured with legal cover - for example your household policy or trade union membership, so please do check. 

Please also be aware that, if you pursue your case to court, there could be a costs risk to you if your case is not allocated to the small claims track and/or the Defendant convinces the court you shouldn't have brought the case.  Organisations can be very aggressive defending disability discrimination claims even though the only way to enforce equality legislation is to take your case to court.  Officially the courts are open and accessible to disabled litigants but it does not necessarily feel like that. 

This website contains useful information about discrimination claims: https://www.stammeringlaw.org.uk .

First face mask discrimination case nets £7,000

A disabled woman assisted by Kester Disability Rights has been paid £7,000 in compensation by a service provider who refused her access to a service because she was unable to wear a face mask.

The pay-out was achieved through negotiation as there was no dispute that access had been denied, or that the Claimant had a disability exemption.  The only thing to be agreed was the amount of compensation, not whether it was due or not. 

Refusing access to people unable to wear face coverings due to disability is direct discrimination - no different to denying access to a black or gay person for example.

Disabled people are now routinely harassed in public for not wearing face coverings - frequently given the impression that confidential medical information must be publicly disclosed to justify exemption.  The fact that shops and hospitality businesses routinely display "no mask no entry" signs shows how deeply disablist attitudes are embedded in society.  If premises displayed "no blacks" or "no gays" notices there would be outrage.

Fortunately the official Government position does not endorse any of this as nobody exempt from wearing a mask is expected to go around justifying themselves.  Saying "I'm exempt" is enough.  If the response to that can be proved to be discriminatory then compensation is due.