Workers with epilepsy still facing prejudice

Apr 05 2005 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Around a third of people with epilepsy say they have experienced prejudice from their employer and nearly half are reluctant to change jobs because they fear encountering prejudice elsewhere, according to a new study.

The survey by the National Society for Epilepsy (NSE) and psychometric assessment firm SHL highlights the problems faced by workers with "hidden" disabilities.

In January the TUC complained that employers were not doing enough to help workers with dyslexia, a condition that affects up to 2.9 million workers.

The NSE's surveys found levels of prejudice perceived to be shown by employers had changed little in the past three years, since the society last carried out a similar survey.

Yet its research also suggested that employers are wrong to take such a narrow-minded view.

Using psychometric testing, it evaluated people of different ages with epilepsy of varying severity, comparing them with a "normal" cohort of people.

There was no marked difference between the two groups, meaning people with epilepsy are just as likely to perform as well their colleagues when handling numerical and verbal information, said the society.

"Needless to say, we weren't surprised at this finding," said Margaret Thomas, NSE assistant director – communications.

"But we know many people with epilepsy have experienced prejudice in the workplace, with bosses assuming that people with epilepsy are less able in the workplace than those without the condition," she added.