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Disability Discrimination Act Now Protects Medical Conditions
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 7, 2005

LONDON, ENGLAND--People in the United Kingdom that have been diagnosed with a serious illness are now protected under the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act.

The change, which took effect Monday, means that a person cannot be discriminated against on the basis of disability or illness -- even if the symptoms have not been seen.

This is important news for an estimated 250,000 people diagnosed with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, or some mental illnesses, for instance, because they cannot be fired, or refused credit or a home mortgage on the basis of illness or disability.

Before the change, people had to prove that their conditions were "clinically well recognized" and that they had a "substantial and long-term impact" on their lives. This meant that people whose disabilities could not be specifically labeled, or whose symptoms showed up only occasionally, had difficulty proving that they had been discriminated against because of their disabilities.

"This closes a significant loophole in the law," said Bert Massie, chairman of the Disability Rights Commission, in a press statement. "We have been unable to help people who have been diagnosed with serious illnesses and then treated unfairly, because they didn't fall under the legal definition of disability."

"This is plainly wrong. People diagnosed with serious long-term health conditions shouldn't be discriminated against -- full stop."

Massie added that the new rule protects people who are dealing with a significant life change.

"The law will help people stay in work where they can, and to get the full range of public and private services that every person should be able to take for granted."

Related:
"Long-term sick protected by law" (BBC News)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4500032.stm
"DRC hails new legal protection for 250,000 people with serious health conditions" (Disability Rights Commission)
http://www.drc-gb.org/newsroom/newsdetails.asp?id=889&section=1

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