Your Rights When Accessing Transport Services in Northern Ireland
What is disability discrimination by transport services?
Discrimination occurs when a transport provider:
- refuses to provide any service (or deliberately fails to provide a service) which it offers or provides to members of the public;
- provides a service of a lower standard or in a worse manner;
- provides a service on worse terms; or
- fails to make a reasonable adjustment if that failure has the effect of making it impossible or unreasonably difficult for the disabled person to make use of the service and cannot show that the failure is justified.
Are you protected?If you meet the definition of disability in the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) you are covered by the legislation. That means you are protected if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Some disabilities may be visible, but others may not be immediately obvious, such as mental ill health or epilepsy. The DDA also specifically covers anyone who has cancer, HIV or multiple sclerosis.
What can you do if you believe you have been discriminated against?
You can bring a claim against the transport provider in the County Court. Court action must be brought within six months of the alleged discrimination.
Before legal proceedings have begun, it may be sensible to raise a complaint with the provider to see whether the issue can be determined to the satisfaction of both parties. Even when legal proceedings have been brought, the provider may wish to attempt to settle the matter through discussion with the complainant. Any discrimination may have been unintentional and the dispute may be capable of being resolved by negotiation.
The Equality Commission provides free advice for people who believe they may have been discriminated against. In addition, it provides legal assistance with some cases.