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Kenny's story

A case study illustrating why we need to change the law

What you need to know

Kenny's story

Improving protection against discrimination


Kenny suffered brain damage after a car accident eleven years ago and now walks with a limp. He went for a night out in Belfast city centre with a group of friends and went to a bar. After finishing his first drink he left to get some cash for the rest of the evening. However, when he returned the security guard at the door refused to let him enter saying "You're not getting in - you're too drunk".

Kenny tells his story

"I told her I wasn’t drunk, as I had had only one alcoholic drink but the security guard would not listen and told me again that she would not allow me to enter. I explained to her that I was disabled and that she was discriminating against me because I was disabled and walked with a limp. Nothing I said changed her mind, so my friends and I decided to go elsewhere.

I know the security guard thought I was drunk because of the way I was walking, but the incident really annoyed me.There is no point in getting aggressive about it. I can’t understand why if you are a guy with brain damage and you walk into a place that you’re treated differently than your mates because you’re not as quick or as fast as them or whatever.

Security staff checking people out is fine, but I think they should be better trained. It’s good to have security staff keeping an eye in bars to make sure nothing escalates but they should have more knowledge of different people from different places in life. 

Changes to the law might make people realise that some disabilities are more visible than others and I would like to see the law changed. Some people you can really see their disability and in some people it is hidden. I have a friend and we could go out and you can see how the stroke has affected him and people know and see that. Whereas with me I walk with a bit of a limp and people think I’m drunk.

But I’m not drunk – I just had a bad accident."

  • Changes to the law
If the law were changed in Northern Ireland, Kenny could challenge this treatment. The change would remove the requirement for him to compare his treatment with that of someone else. For example, show that he was treated less favourably than someone without a disability or with a different disability.

Note: For a disabled person to demonstrate they have been subjected to disability-related discrimination, their treatment must be compared with an appropriate comparator, such as a non-disabled person or a person with other disabilities. Difficulties caused by the Malcolm decision significantly restrict disabled people’s claim to disability-related discrimination.  This has been addressed by the Equality Act 2010 but in Northern Ireland disabled people are still restricted to access to justice.

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< Disability law reform

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