Q&A - I get overlooked for promotion because of my son's health problems

Q: I am a single parent and I work full time in the office of a local factory. My 12-year old son suffers with cystic fibrosis and I regularly need to take time off work to attend medical appointments with him. I know my manager resents this and he always manages to make me feel guilty when I ask for time off.

Despite the fact that I have applied for promotion at every possible opportunity, I feel that I am constantly being overlooked for promotion and often others with far less experience get it instead of me. There have also been unpleasant comments made by my manager regarding my son's illness.  I and others who see all this feel that I am being unfairly treated due to my son's illness. Is there anything that I can do about it?

A:  Under the Equality Act your son's illness is likely to be defined as a disability and would therefore be a protected characteristic under the Equality Act. 

The Equality Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person due to a protected characteristic held by another person. This is known as associative discrimination.  In this instance it appears that you may be being discriminated against (or being subjected to unfavourable treatment) due to your son's illness.

In such matters it is always wise to seek expert legal advice as early as possible. This is because the deadlines for commencing such claims can be very short.  To bring a claim against your employer, for example, the time limit is just three months from the last act of discrimination or unfavourable treatment. So I would suggest that you make an appointment to see a specialist employment solicitor immediately.