The Commission supported Mark Daniels, a medical student and permanent wheelchair user from Peckham, against the owner and the manager of the Mosquito bar in Clapham.
Both people were accused of denying Mr Daniels access due to his disability, despite the fact that the Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for a service provider to discriminate against a person because of disability.
Mr Daniels claimed he was refused entry to the bar because he was a wheelchair user. He was also told the bar was too busy and there was no space for him – despite the fact that other people were being let in front of him. Mr Daniels was not expecting to be refused entry as he had been in the same bar before without any problems.
Mr Daniels also said that he was subjected to humiliating harassment by the manager who took photographs of him and then laughed at him along with the doorman. This treatment, which took place in front of customers going in and out of the bar, left Mr Daniels feeling powerless, degraded and offended.
His case highlights the difficulties still faced by many disabled people in their everyday lives, including physical access problems and dealing with discriminatory attitudes.
John Wadham, Chief Legal Officer at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:
‘There are at least eight million disabled people in the UK. That’s a potential eight million customers that businesses could be missing out on if they are failing to provide equal access to their services.’
‘Businesses value customers and need them to survive so it does not make sense to exclude disabled people.
‘All that is needed is a little thought by a business and investment in some common sense facilities for disabled people. A small price to pay compared to the reputational benefits for a business that is seen to treat all its customers well.’
Mr Daniels, said:
‘It is regrettable to me it had to come to this as this whole action was avoidable and unnecessary but I felt the law was my only method of expressing the sense of indignity I experienced.’
‘I was happy to spend my money and enjoy myself just like everybody else that evening but that opportunity was taken from me solely based on prejudice and ignorance. It’s a shame some businesses still see disabled people as an inconvenience instead of as potential customers. My main goal of this action is to try and educate this business, and hopefully others, that this kind of prejudice is detrimental to themselves for losing custom, but more importantly to the individual who have their freedom and dignity stripped away.’
Guidance on how to make services accessible and avoid unlawful discrimination can be found in the EHRC Statutory Code of Practice for services, public functions and associations.
For more press information contact the Commission’s media office on 0161 829 8102, out of hours 07767 272 818.
Notes to editors
- It has been unlawful for service providers to discriminate against disabled people by treating them less favourably since 1995. Service providers are also required to make reasonable adjustments so that disabled people are not placed at a substantial disadvantage, such as providing a ramp and disabled toilets.
- The EHRC Statutory Code of Practicefor services, public functions and associationscan be downloaded free from the EHRC website.
- The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006. It took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission. It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights. The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation. It encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act and is recognised by the UN as an ‘A status’ National Human Rights Institution. It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.