Job Centre Disability Discrimination
I attended the job centre with my partner on December 1st 2022 around 2pm, the reason for the appointment was for my partner to confirm her new card details as she recently changed banks.
I attended as it’s our joint account, I was her transport, she wanted me present, and I was also hoping to discuss my recent PIP award to see there was anything I was eligible for.
Once we arrived the employee confirmed both our identities on the computer and we started to discuss the bank card situation. This was quickly resolved.
After some conversation, the employee said the sentence “Obviously Jake isn’t working because of his disability…” and then continued with what they were saying. This caught me off guard and felt very demeaning.
I had to quickly interrupt and correct them, explaining I work 37.5 hours a week. This was a very uncomfortable situation that made me feel anxious, but also as I felt like I needed to defend myself. The assumption that I do not work because I have a disability was extremely upsetting to me.
Despite struggling with my mobility, I work to support my family. This comment made me feel as if it doesn’t matter how much or how hard I work and put the idea in my mind that people only see me as disabled.
When I left the job centre with my partner, she could tell I was upset. I felt like I couldn’t ever go back because of how demeaning it was to me. I was judged purely based on my disability and that wasn’t fair. I felt discriminated against.
That comment has really stuck with me. Not only causing me a lot of distress and anxiety, but it’s made me feel like I need to justify myself and my disability to others unnecessarily. I’m constantly worried about being judged for such things as parking in a disabled space or use my walking stick that, at times, I cannot walk without. I feel anxious, as if I need to hide my disability out of fear of people assuming things about me. Now worried that people see me as nothing but disabled. I was not like this prior to this interaction.
This interaction has not only sparked a new anxiety in me, but created a new fear of being judged. This isn’t fair. It’s had a major impact on the interactions I’ve had with people ever since. I have not felt comfortable with myself for almost 2 months now.
I think it is necessary to retrain your employees on how to handle people with disabilities. Just because I have a disability, it does not mean I do not or cannot work.
I am currently considering contacting a solicitor to pursue a compensation claim as this was a clear case of discrimination. I feel I deserve considerable compensation as this has not only been anxiety inducing, but very distressing, demeaning and extremely upsetting to me.
I have now had 2 phonecalls with the job centre, one with a supervisor, one with the office manager. They have told me that they are making all their staff have unconcious-bias re-retraining.
I have also been told that to pursue a compensation claim, it has been passed on to an examinar who will investigate the complaint.
During the phonecalls, I made it very clear that not only did I have hurt feelings, but I have put myself in physical danger and strained and hurt myself trying not to use my walking stick because the comment made me want to hide my disability.
I was wondering, what is the right amount of compensation I should expect/accept?