Employment tribunals on the rise for neurodivergent workers

Employment tribunals involving neurodivergent employees rose last year, with dyslexia the most common condition involved.

Research from employment law firm Fox showed that in 2021 there were 93 tribunals where employees alleged being discriminated against for their neurodiverse condition, up from 70 in 2020. 

Dyslexia accounted for 40 employment tribunals, while autism (28), Asperger's (21), ADHD (19) and dyspraxia (12) made up the rest.

Neurodiversity in the workplace:

Workspaces failing needs of neurodiverse employees

HR professionals lack confidence in spotting neurodivergence

Neurodiverse talent representation disappoints in 2021

Dan Harris, CEO of charity Neurodiversity in Business, took positives from the increased representation of neurodiverse workers.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “In some respects we should view the data presented here as being indicative that businesses are employing more neurodivergent talent and that these employees are increasingly self-disclosing their conditions to employers.

"The real change will come when employees truly feel that they can bring their authentic selves to work, and businesses in turn realise how best to support them deliver their best possible outcome for their employer."

Harris added that when talks reach the tribunal stage, employers need to tailor the process to suit the needs of the neurodivergent individual.

He added: "All parties should ensure that they fully understand the nature of the employee’s neurodivergent condition and implement appropriate adjustments to the process to ensure that the employee can fully engage and best represent their position; this really needs an individualised approach given the diversity present across the neurodiversity spectrum.”

Ivor Adair, partner at Fox, suggested that workers are now more confident to discuss neurodivergence at work, which contributed to the rise in tribunals. 

He said: “The jump in tribunal claims shows that employers can’t afford to ignore neurodiversity issues. Employees are increasingly willing to disclose they are neurodivergent and aren’t afraid to request reasonable adjustments if their workplace setup places them at a disadvantage, or challenge discriminatory treatment.”