Equality is not about treating all people in the same way. It’s
about recognising and respecting diversity enough to adapt
practice and procedure to suit all.
Will the
Equality Act
equal before
the law?
The Times, 15 April 2010
Firms free to favour
female and black job
applicants... Mail online, 4
December 2008
Equality plans
‘class war’
claim... BBC News,
12 January 2009
The Equality Act - Introduction
• Single largest piece of
legislation the UK has
• Harmonises multiple
pieces of primary and
secondary legislation.
The purpose of the legislation
“The purpose of the Bill and its accompanying package of
measures is to strengthen protection, advance equality
and de-clutter the law.”
We will...
Introduce a new Equality Duty on the public sector
End age discrimination
Require transparency
Extend the scope of ‘positive action’
Strengthen reinforcement
Protected Characteristics under the
Equality Act 2010
Gender reassignment
Marriage and civil
Pregnancy & maternity
Religion and/or belief
Sexual orientation
There are different types of discrimination:
Direct Discrimination
Indirect Discrimination
Associative Discrimination
Perceptive Discrimination
Harassment (Third Party)
Disability Discrimination
Direct Discrimination
What it is...
“Person A directly discriminates against Person B
when A treats B less favourably than A would
treats or would treat others in the same
Example of Direct Discrimination
“A 70 year old lady was refused a broadband
contract by Carphone Warehouse in the UK and was
told that she could only register if she came to the
store with a younger member of her family. The
Carphone Warehouse had provided guidance to
staff not to sell broadband contracts to customers
aged 70+ as they believe they will not understand
the terms of the contract.”
Source: www.equineteurope.org
Indirect Discrimination
What it is...
“This happens when a requirement is applied
equally to everyone but has the effect of
excluding one group of people more than
Example of Indirect Discrimination
Your employer brings in a new shift pattern which
means that everyone has to work fewer but longer
days. You have a disability that means you’re
exhausted after two long days of working. So the
new shift pattern puts you and other people who
have the same disability as you at a disadvantage.
Your employer will have indirectly discriminated
against you if it can’t justify the new shift pattern.
Source: www.equalities.gov.uk
Associative Discrimination
What it is...
“Less favourable treatment because of someone
else’s protected characteristic.”
Example of Associative Discrimination
Coleman v Attridge Law 2008
Sharon Coleman claimed managers at Attridge Law called
her ‘lazy’ when she requested time off to care for her
disabled son. She accepted voluntary redundancy, but later
brought a claim for constructive dismissal and disability
discrimination. A UK employment tribunal referred the case
to the European Court of Justice to clarify European law.
The ECJ ruled that able-bodied people can be covered by
the Disability Discrimination Act because of their
association with people covered by equality law.
Source: www.personneltoday.com/articles/2008
Perceptive Discrimination
What it is...
“Discrimination against an individual because of
a perception that he or she has a protected
characteristic when he or she does not, in fact,
have that protected characteristic.”
(other than marriage and civil partnership, and pregnancy and
Example of Perceptive Discrimination
Example 1
“An employer rejects a job application submitted by a white man whom the
employer wrongly assumes to be black because he has an African name.”
Example 2
“An employee is subjected to religious
abuse on the basis that he supports a
particular football team, even though he
does not actually belong to the religion
associated with that football team.”
Source: www.mcgrigors.com
Harassment and
Third Party Harassment
What it is...
“Unwanted conduct related to a relevant
protected characteristic.”
In addition, employers can be legally liable
for the harassing conduct of third parties. A
third party would include a client,
customer, supplier, visitor, contractor,
service user etc.
Three strikes and you’re out!
Example of Third Party Harassment
“The employee or job applicant is harassed by a
third party on more than two occasions (not
necessarily by the same person). The employer
knows that it has happened but fails to take
steps that are reasonable in the circumstances
to prevent such harassment happening to that
person again.”
Source: www.equalities.gov.uk
What it is...
This happens when an individual is singled out
because they have used the system to make a
complaint or challenge treatment received.
Example of Victimisation
“If you are lesbian and your fellow colleagues
started passing unwelcome comments about your
sexuality and you complained to your manager, but
rather than doing something about the problem
you are sacked for no reason or for no good reason
and you believe that it is because of the complaint
you raised, you may claim compensation for being
victimised for making a complaint about sexual
orientation discrimination.”
Source: www.balindaandcoemploymentsolicitors.co.uk
Disability Discrimination
What it is...
Person A discriminates a disabled Person B if A treats B
unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of
B’s disability.
Types of claims:
• “Because of”
• Detriment arising from the disability
• Reasonable adjustments by employer
• Indirect discrimination
Example of Disability Discrimination
“Amir is a 12-year-old student with autism and sensory
difficulties. One day he becomes very anxious when the
fire alarm goes off in school. He stands with his hands
covering his ears and is unable to move. The teacher tells
Amir to leave the building but the pupil is frozen to the
spot. The teacher shouts at Amir and the situation
escalates to a point where the pupil lashes out at the
teacher. Amir is excluded from school for two days for
assaulting the teacher.”
Source: www.westsussex.gov.uk
WHAT assumptions do we make about people?
WHY do we come to the conclusions we do?
WHEN do we tend to make these assumptions?
WHERE can this cause us difficulties?
HOW can we stop ourselves doing this?
WHO does it and who does it affect?
Further information
The Government Equalities Office (GEO)
CIPD - Equal opportunities in employment

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