The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has lost more employment tribunals involving disability discrimination than any other UK employer in the last four years, despite being responsible for providing support to some of the nations most vulnerable adults, according to new figures uncovered by the BBC.
A BBC Panorama programme that aired on Monday night at 8.30pm collated the evidence from publicly available data, discovering that the DWP lost 17 of 134 claims of discrimination against its own disabled workers between 2016 and 2019.
This equates to the DWP losing 12.5% of disability discrimination cases, compared to 3% lost by other employers in Britain.
The data also shows that the department has spent nearly £1 million on tribunal payments and out of court settlements. One in eight DWP employees identify as disabled.
A spokesperson admitted the DWP is “shocked” by the figures and said it would be reviewing its processes to ensure its disabled staff are treated fairly at work.
“Fair and respectful treatment is a right and we do not tolerate discrimination in any form,” the spokesperson said.
They added: “We have instigated a review of our processes and actions following tribunal cases, to ensure all our employees are treated fairly and with respect.”
Ken Butler from Disability Rights UK said: “That the DWP has lost more disability discrimination cases at employment tribunal than any other employer will ony reinforce its lack of trust among disabled people.
“It is a bitter irony that the DWP runs the Disability Confident scheme aimed at encouraging and advising employers to take on disabled people.
“Trust comes from what an organisation does not what it says.
“That the DWP itself is “shocked” by the level of disability discrimination it has allowed shows it has lost a grip on how it serves disabled people.
“It needs to take urgent transparent steps to reverse a “culture” in which the needs of disable people are ignored or they are actively harmed.”