Are Employers Shutting the Door on Applicants with Disabilities?

When Holly Girven was offered an online interview for a legal role, she was excited for the opportunity – especially given the current economic situation brought on by the pandemic. But her hopes were dashed when the employer pulled the offer upon learning that Holly is a wheelchair user.

Based on her CV, Holly was a prime candidate to be taken forward to interview – but the agency, recruiting on behalf of the BT Group, cited an inability to meet accessibility requirements as the reason for the invitation being revoked.

Sadly, Holly’s story is all too common.

I was invited to join the BBC News Look North programme to discuss access to work with a disability.

Legally Disabled?

While there’s a wider conversation about disability in the workplace, ongoing research in the legal sector is being spearheaded by Legally Disabled? – a project that gathers the experiences of legal professionals with disabilities.

Their latest annual report released in January highlighted a reinforcement of Holly’s story: fewer than 10% of people with disabilities using legal recruitment agencies had a positive experience.

Click here to download the full report.

But this isn’t an issue solely centred on the legal sector – it’s a problem with industry as a whole. I recently wrote about remote work and how in the midst of a pandemic, it revealed itself as more than just a perk, but a fundamental element to making work accessible to everyone.

We’ve seen that working from home is a viable solution – and in my experience, it’s been a huge benefit to my working and personal life. For most people, finding employment with a disability is hard – and compared to the non-disabled population, it’s more likely for people with disabilities to be unemployed.

The widespread adoption of remote work could change that for millions of disabled people.

Ultimately, I think the majority of people with disabilities want to work. I think it’s good to work if you’re able to – and that a diverse workforce is a strong workforce. When hiring, hire for skills: that’s why employers hire someone after all. If your office isn’t accessible, can you make reasonable adjustments? Could you make an exception for the right candidate to work remotely?

We now know it’s possible to be productive in a remote position. Maybe it’s time to make it the norm. In Holly’s case, she could well have been the person with the best skills for the job, if the option was there.

The BT Group has released a statement explaining that they are conducting a full investigation into the matter – so in time, we’ll see how this pans out.

Holly has written about her experience in her own words, and her hopes for how companies will engage in the conversation.

Talk to Aspire Law

Raquel Siganporia is a Senior Solicitor and Director of Business Development at Aspire Law. If you or a loved one feel you may have suffered a spinal injury as a result of an accident or someone else’s negligence, or you are concerned about the treatment you have received, contact Raquel free of charge and in confidence on 0800 030 20 40 or at

Alternatively, complete this form and one of our Spinal Injury specialists will contact you.