BBC Panorama has revealed that, of the 134 claims of disability discrimination made against the DWP by its own disabled workers between 2016 and 2019, it lost 17 and settled a further 45. The appalling rate of loss (12.5%) is significantly higher than the average for employers (3%). As a result of the lost or settled claims, the DWP paid out at least £953,315.
Surely, the DWP understands its legal obligations under the Equality Act? Yet, disabled DWP workers have reported being forced into situations that are detrimental to their health - despite the advice of GPs and Occupational Health Services - and suffering nasty and dismissive comments from colleagues. It just goes to show that simply having knowledge of the law is insufficient; an organisation's culture must be such that these issues are taken seriously and individuals are treated with respect.
It is clear that some staff within the DWP have unhelpful attitudes towards certain disabilities, meaning that disabled workers face discrimination and are unable to access the support they need. Organisations should be doing all they can to tackle stigma against disabilities, not only because it is the morally right thing to do, but because it can help protect them from the sort of claims that the DWP has been facing.
There is a horrible irony that the organisation that is designed to look after the more vulnerable members of our society is constantly falling foul of the Equality Act around disability.