You have rights too!

The law of February 11th, 2005 is devoted for equal rights and opportunities, to participation and citizenship of persons with disabilities.

Since the creation of the Law of February 11th, 2005, it isn’t unreasonable to say that our society has initiated a very important change in our approach towards disability and people with disabilities. This text as well as the hundreds of applied decrees have changed, modify, and will modify all the helps provided to people with disabilities.

This section doesn’t claim to be able to be exhaustive. The following information is provided simply to inform you of your rights concerning education, employment and accessibility, especially since the law of February 11th, 2005. 

For the first time in France, the law defines the term disability:

"Constitutes a disability within the meaning of this law, any activity limitation or participation restriction to social life suffered in its environment by a person  due to a substantial, lasting or definitive alteration of one or more physical, sensory, mental, cognitive or psychological functions, a multi-handicapped or an incapacitating health disorder”.

Certainly a person is disabled due to an illness, an accident, but the difficulties she meets aren’t only due to the consequences of failures of his body.

It must also take account of its environment. For example, it’s clear that a person travelling with a wheelchair is encountering difficulties because she is paralyzed but also because places are not quite accessible.

For this reason, it is now better to speak of a "person with disabilities" rather than a disabled person.

The law also proposes the 'rights for the compensation’ of the disability consequences in order to ensure equality of opportunities:

To benefit from certain compensatory measures, it is necessary to make recognize your disability from the Committee for the rights and independence of persons with disabilities (MDPH).

The principle of non-discrimination: enshrining the principle of non-discrimination, it is written in the law 2005 that any person with a disability, whatever is the nature of his disability, has the same rights as a valid person.

This means in other words that access «to all for all», is the watchword, induced by the law of February 11th, 2005. The built environment, transportation, highways, school, business, employment, administration, sport, culture, leisure etc., all aspects of a citizen life are involved.

This principle of non-discrimination is a real revolution and is very useful in our society in which people with disabilities are too often excluded from school, employment, leisure activities, etc. The law 2005 complements the measures taken in the field of discrimination.

Rights are not always respected

The Law of February 11th, 2005 is devoted to the principle of non-discrimination: all people with disabilities, no matter their impairment, have the same rights as a valid person. Nevertheless, there are still certain situations in which people with disabilities remain victims to discrimination, for example:

- Studies: certain students may be refused entry into a sector because of their disability which is incompatible with the studies referred to. Some academic institutions don’t want to set up the necessary arrangements.

⇒ a disabled student, no matter the impairment, may register in any program insofar as he has the degree and level of education required. There is no ability to a sector. It is forbidden to ask a disabled student for a medical certificate to confirm their capability unless this certificate is required by all students.

⇒ Institutions have to” implement the arrangements necessary for their situation in the organization, the progress and the support of their studies.” 

- Jobs: The unemployment rate for citizens with disabilities is twice as important as the unemployment rate of the French. (AGEFIPH 2007). This employment rate could be the result of a lack of qualified employees with disabilities, with a large number having education inferior to the high school diploma. But even so, those with post-secondary education can also be refused a job simply because of their disability.

⇒ a person with a disability has the right to apply to all jobs. Only the doctor's work may recognize the ability to a workstation.

⇒ Employers must take the appropriate measures to enable disabled workers access to employment or maintaining employment corresponding to their qualifications, to exercise or to progress there (...). The refusal to take appropriate measures may constitute discrimination.

- Accommodation: some owners refuse to rent accommodation to a disabled person often relying on security or accessibility problems.

⇒ It is forbidden to refuse the rental accommodation to a person because of his disability. 

⇒ On June 28th, 2005, the 17th Chambre Correctionnelle du Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris condemned an owner who had refused to rent an apartment in XVIIth Paris, located on the 6th floor with a lift, on the ground that the potential tenant was a disabled person. In the present state of texts, it was up to the tenant to be candidate, and to her alone, to appreciate the characteristics of her accommodation.

You have been victim of discrimination: What steps?

Discrimination, whether direct or indirect, intentional or not, is forbidden and punishable under criminal law.

Constitutes discrimination any distinction made between individuals because of their origin, their disability, their gender, etc.

⇒ For example, a Headmaster who refuses to register a pupil in the school of its district in the only motive that he (she) is disabled.

It can be considered as indirect when an arrangement, a criterion, an apparently neutral practice, may entail an unfavorable effect for a person or a group of people because of a criterion prohibited by the law.

⇒ For example, the case of a company that requires a handwritten letter in its hiring process in order to carry out a handwriting expertise. In that case, all candidates with writing difficulties are victims of discrimination. It is up to the company to develop its recruitment process in order to ensure equal opportunity to all.

Discrimination is penalized by a sentence of 3 years in prison and/or a fine of € 45,000 euros, the discrimination involved in hiring, an internship application, a on-the-job training period, either during a sanction or a dismissal; the refusal of goods and services supply, the refusal to subordinate the provision of a good or service to a condition based on one of the elements referred to in the article of the penal code.


You have been of victim of discrimination?

The HALDE (High Authority of fight against discrimination and for the Equality) is an independent administrative authority created in December 2004.

It is responsible for all direct or indirect, discrimination forbid by the law or by international obligation.

It helps people recognize discrimination and how to fight it. It offers advice regarding the judicial process and will help you plead your case. This administration has the power to investigate certain situations to help create your file, for example acquiring documents and proof you may find difficult to obtain, investigating an area or interviewing witnesses.


Contact: The Defender of rights  (the HALDE is now part of the missions of the Defender of rights).


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