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  • In my case I requested a reasonable adjustment from my employer that was refused. For the next ten months the employer (presumably on advice of their solicitor) first of all demanded to know to what extent I was autistic - the reply from my autism assessment service to that was to state that diagnosis is either a yes or no situation, they do not evaluate beyond that.

    My employer then contended that my autism was not a disability within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010. My solicitor told me that this stance is indeed common practice and that he would be very surprised if my employer did not concede this point prior to Employment Tribunal, as he said it would reflect badly on them to contest this when it would almost certainly be determined by the ET that my autism is a disability. Indeed, three weeks before the ET, the employer dropped this contention.

    My case never reached the ET, as a few days before the ET hearing, I was presented with a settlement that I had the choice of accepting or refusing: my solicitor informed me that should I choose the latter, then my union would withdraw their support as they determined that the settlement was 'fair'. As much as I would have liked to have my day in court, I too determined the settlement to be good enough.

    Interestingly the draft proposal of the settlement from my employer did not accept that my autism was life-long. This was eventually corrected as my solicitor put forward the argument that currently there is no known cure for autism.

    I hope the above is useful in understanding that as far as the law is concerned, autism is not a disability unless it has been proved in a court to be so. I can only conclude that employers and their solicitors use this fact to scare off the autistic claimant, but when push comes to shove, they are unlikely to take such a contention all the way to an ET hearing.

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