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The Equality Act 2010 The Equality and Human Rights Commission Claudia Bennett Senior Solicitor. What we will cover. The Equality Act purpose and structure Protected characteristics Prohibited conduct The EHRC and its powers Our legal strategy Contact us. Equality Act 2010.
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The Equality Act 2010 The Equality and Human Rights Commission Claudia Bennett Senior Solicitor
What we will cover • The Equality Act purpose and structure Protected characteristics Prohibited conduct • The EHRC and its powers Our legal strategy Contact us
Equality Act 2010 16 Parts; 28 Schedules – eg: • Key concepts (P2 and sch 1) • Services and public functions (P3, sch 2&3) • Premises (P4, sch 4&5) • Work and employment services (P5, Sch 6,7,8 & 9) • Education (P6, Sch 10,11,12,13 &14) • Associations (P7, Sch 15 &16) • Other unlawful conduct (P8) • Enforcement (P9, sch 17) • Advancing equality (P11, Sch 18 &19) • Exceptions (P14, sch 22 &23)
Equality Act 2010 Also see: • Regulations • Explanatory Notes (EN) • Codes of Practice • Non-statutory guidance • EHRC website
Key concepts – Protected characteristics • Age (s 5) • Disability (s 6) slight change • Gender reassignment (s 7) slight change • Marriage and civil partnership (s 8) • Pregnancy and maternity (s18) • Race (s 9) • Religion and belief (s 10) • Sex (s 11) • Sexual orientation (s 12)
Age (s.5) • Where the Act refers to the protected characteristic of age it means a person belonging to a particular age group. • An age group includes persons of the same age and people of a particular range of ages • Replaces current provisions, but no substantive change
Disability (s.6) • A person has a disability for the purposes of the Act if he or she: — - has a physical or mental impairment, and - the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his/her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. • Schedule 1 and Regulations on meaning of disability • Guidance on matters to be taken into account in determining questions relating to the definition of disability
Gender reassignment (s.7) • Where a person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex. • Replaced similar provisions, but no longer requires a person to be under medical supervision to come within it.
Marriage/civil partnership (s.8) • A person has the protected characteristic of marriage and civil partnership if the person is married or is a civil partner. • People who are not married or in a civil partnership do not have this characteristic – ie single people are not protected.
Race (s.9) • Race includes — colour; nationality; ethnic or national origins. • Replaced similar provisions, but no substantive change. • But power to amend the definition to include caste.
Religion or belief (s.10) • Covers any religion falling within Art 9 ECHR; must have clear structure and belief system • Covers philosophical beliefs which meet particular criteria • Includes a lack of belief/religion. • A ‘philosophical belief’ must not be incompatible with human dignity or conflict with fundamental rights of others [see EN 52]
Sex (s.11) • The Act provides protection against sex discrimination for males and females of any age. • This is a new provision, but there is no change substantive change in the law. • Note that while pregnancy and maternity discrimination is a form of sex discrimination there are distinct provisions in ss17 and 18
Sexual orientation (s.12) Sexual orientation means a person’s sexual orientation towards— • persons of the same sex, • persons of the opposite sex, or • persons of either sex.
Pregnancy and maternity (s.17 & 18) • Protects a woman from discrimination during a protected period because of: • The pregnancy • Pregnancy-related illness • Taking or seeking to take maternity leave • The protected period • New: includes protection from discrimination in education
Key concepts - Prohibited conduct • Direct discrimination (s 13) • Indirect discrimination (s 19) • Discrimination arising from disability (s 15) • Duty to make reasonable adjustments (ss 20 & 21) • Harassment (s 26) • Victimisation (s 27) (also eg Equality of terms)
Direct discrimination A person (A) discriminates against another (B) if, because of a protected characteristic, A treats B less favourably than A treats or would treat others. • Discrimination by association or perception included • Direct discrimination can never be justified however age discrimination remains justifiable
Indirect discrimination • A applies a provision, criterion or practice (PCP) to B • A applies, or would apply, the PCP to persons with whom B does not share the relevant protected characteristic • the PCP puts, or would put, persons with whom B shares the characteristic at a particular disadvantage when compared with persons with whom B does not share the characteristic • the PCP puts, or would put, B at that disadvantage and • the PCP is not a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
Harassment • a person (A) harasses another (B) if A engages in unwanted conduct ‘related to a relevant protected characteristic’ which has the purpose or effect of violating B’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for B. • Includes association and perception
3rd Party Harassment • Three requirements for liability • A third party harasses the employee in the course of the employee's employment; and • The employer has failed to take such steps as would have been reasonably practicable to prevent the third party from doing so; and • The employer knew that the employee had been harassed in the course of their employment on at least two other occasions by a third party
Victimisation • ‘A person (A) victimises another person (B) if A subjects B to a detriment because (a) B does a protected act, or (b) A believes that B has done, or may do, a protected act.’ • Removes the need for the tribunal to construct an appropriate comparator. • ‘Protected acts’ include ‘relevant pay disclosures’
Reasonable adjustments • Where a disabled person is placed at a substantial disadvantage to non-disabled people, there is a duty to make changes to: • Provisions, criteria or practices • Physical features • And a duty to provide auxiliary aids and services (such as a hearing loop or a special computer service) • Express reference is made to providing information in an accessible format and not passing on the cost of an adjustment.
What is reasonable? • Would adjustment be effective; • How practicable would it be to take make the adjustment; • Financialand other costs of making the adjustment; • Disruptionwhich making the adjustment would cause; • Amount of resources already spent on making adjustments; and • Availability of financial or other assistance.
Discrimination arising from disability • A person (A) discriminates against a disabled person (B) if A treats B unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of B’s disability • Discrimination arising from disability can be justified if it is shown to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim • A must know or can reasonably be expected to know that B has a disability in order for discrimination to occur
Enquiries about disability and health Section 60 • “(1) A person (A) to whom an application for work is made must not ask about the health of the applicant (B)- (a) before offering work to B, or (b) where A is not in a position to offer work to B, before including B in a pool of applicants from whom A intends to select a person to whom to offer work.”
Enquiries about disability and health Exceptions • To ascertain if the person can undergo an assessment or if reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process are needed; • For monitoring purposes; • To ascertain if B can carry out some function that is intrinsic to the post; • To allow positive action for disabled people; • Where there is an occupational requirement that the job is done by a disabled person.
The Commission’s powers • Intervene in Commission’s name (s30) [equality or human rights or both] • Judicial Review proceedings in Commission’s name (s30) [equality or human rights or both] • Provide legal assistance to an individual bringing proceedings under the EA (s28) [equality or both, but not human rights alone] • Also other enforcement powers eg inquiries, investigations
EHRC strategic priorities for using litigation powers where the case would • have a significant positive impact in terms of the application of the law or the policies and practices of an organisation, institution or sector • have a positive public impact, securing greater understanding of rights and obligations under the equality enactments and/or human rights law • address significant disadvantage in respect of one or more of the protected grounds and/or major abuse or denial of human rights • challenge a policy or practice known to cause significant disadvantage
EHRC strategic priorities for using litigation powers..... • is a cost effective method of achieving a desired outcome, taking into account the prospects of success • clarifies an important point of law under the Equality Act 2010 or Human Rights Act • will extend or strengthen protections and rights under the Equality Act 2010 and, where it also applies, human rights law; • will contribute substantially to other areas of the Commission’s work
Further information EHRC website information on Equality Act http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/legal-and-policy/equality-act/ Law Society of Scotland http://www.lawscot.org.uk/about-us/equality--diversity
The Commission’s legal team in Scotland • Strategic human rights and equality litigation www.equalityhumanrights.com/legal-and-policy/strategic-human-rights-and-equality-litigation/ • Requests for assistance: email@example.com • Call: Claudia Bennett 0141 228 5965 • E-mail: Claudia.Bennett@equalityhumanrights.com