Faye Henderson (Student)
New research shows that over half of disabled people working in the legal sector lawyers have experienced discrimination, bullying and ill-treatment related to their disability while at work. The report was published as part of The Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning Programme (DRILL). The report was following a study consisting of approximately 300 survey responses and 55 interviews.
Findings from the report Legally disabled? The career experiences of disabled people working in the legal profession shows that 60% of legal professionals who were questioned have experienced ill-treatment in the workplace due to their disability. Approximately 37% of those questioned also stated the ill-treatment was never reported.
These professionals had been subjected to ridiculing or demeaning language and exclusion or victimisation. The research also showed that the ‘psych-emotional’ effects of bullying had serious impacts, with regards to their mental health and wellbeing, often resulting in psychiatric support and counselling. In addition to this 54% of respondents were left feeling that their promotion prospects were ‘inferior’ compared to their non-disabled colleagues. It was also reported that 60% experienced inaccessible working environments resulting in their career opportunities being limited.
This is an issue that needs addressing, the report states a “zero tolerance policy” is needed alongside clear disciplinary policies and reporting procedure. This is not a new issue being explored. In 2018 the legally disabled? Project found aspiring lawyers were struggling to enter the profession and being blocked due to “poorly equipped” recruitment processes.
Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic (SULAC) offers free legal advice on employment matters to members of the public. SULAC is currently open and offers appointments in Stoke-On-Trent and Stafford. For more information, or to book an appointment please contact: SULAC@staffs.ac.uk or call 01782 294800.