The research literature indicates that legislative changes in recent years, including the introduction of tribunal fees, have made it harder for workers in general to enforce their rights under UK employment laws. Drawing on the author’s qualitative study, conducted in 2015 and with information from 265 participants, this paper finds that these legislative changes could be having disproportionate adverse impacts on disabled workers. Of particular note, fees had deterred substantial numbers from submitting discrimination claims; and it appeared that this reluctance to take legal action had in turn emboldened some employers to commit what might have been found to constitute unlawful acts if taken to tribunal. The paper goes onto consider whether these adverse impacts on disabled workers could render fees unlawful under UK and European equality and human rights law and/or could entail violations of rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The paper concludes that the intent behind UK laws might (in relation to the lawfulness of fees) have been frustrated in the domestic courts and that the impact of any future successes in the domestic courts, or under international law, might be dependent upon public opinion and political expediency. The paper also briefly compares developments in Britain with developments in neighbouring and other comparable jurisdictions.
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