Sign in or register to view your account

Direct discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably than other people because of their protected characteristic.

Direct discrimination includes discrimination because a person is wrongly thought to have a particular characteristic or is treated as if they do.

For example, a local authority advice centre refuses to provide advice, that it would normally provide to a member of public, to Denise, a person with a learning disability, as staff assume that she will not be able to understand the advice because of her disability. This is direct discrimination.

Indirect discrimination occurs when there is a rule, a policy or a practice that applies to everyone, but which has a particular adverse impact on people who share a particular protected characteristic. There is a lawful justification for indirect discrimination if it can be evidenced that the rule, policy or practice is put in place in order to meet a legitimate aim in a fair, balanced and reasonable way. It needs to be proved that there is no other alternative way to meet this objective that would not have a discriminatory effect or is less likely to be disadvantageous to people who share a particular protected characteristic.

The purpose of ‘the duty to make reasonable adjustments to remove barriers for disabled people’ is to ensure that a disabled person is afforded access to services to a standard that is as close as it is reasonably possible to get to the one offered to persons who do not have a disability. If the Equality Act 2010 applies to you (because you are an employer, you provide public services, you are an association or you sell goods and provide facilities) and you find that disabled people face barriers to for example access to a building when they are physically immobile or to communication when they are deaf, you are under a duty to make reasonable changes to facilitate access and communication. It is equally important to inform people about the adjustments being made so that they are aware they can access services, for example by putting a sign up. Failure to do it may mean that a duty has not been complied with if disabled people cannot access services because they are unaware of adjustments being made for them.

For service providers and those exercising public functions, the duty comprises of three elements:

1. Where there is a provision, criterion or practice which puts disabled people at a substantial disadvantage compared with people who do not have a disability, to take reasonable steps to avoid that discrimination;
2. Where there is a physical feature that puts a barrier to disabled persons accessing a public service and this puts them at a substantial disadvantage compared with the people who do not have a disability, to avoid that disadvantage or adopt a reasonable alternative method of providing the service or exercising the function.
3. Where a lack of auxiliary aid puts disabled people at a substantial disadvantage compared with people who are not disabled, to provide that auxiliary aid.
Where a provision, criterion or practice, or a need for an auxiliary aid or service, relates to provision of information, the steps which are reasonable to take include provision of information in accessible formats.
A service provider will not be required to take any steps which would be outside their powers or which would fundamentally alter the nature of the service.

Examples from the Statutory Code of Practice:

  • a person with a visual impairment regularly receives printed letters regarding his social security benefits, despite the fact that on previous occasions he has indicated his need for Braille and this has been provided.  He finds this repeated need to telephone to ask for Braille frustrating and inconvenient, but is told that the software, which generates communications, does not enable a record to be kept of customers’ needs for alternative formats. This may constitute a failure to make reasonable adjustments if it is judged to have left the disabled person at a substantial disadvantage and there was a reasonable adjustment that could have been made
  • a library service, which provides a free creative writing class, charges a photocopying fee for enlarging materials used in the class for a participant who has a visual impairment. This is likely to be unlawful

This type of discrimination occurs when a disabled person is treated less favourably because of something connected with their disability and this unfavourable treatment cannot be justified.
The only justification to this discriminatory conduct would be if there exists a genuine legitimate objective that will be met in a fair, objective and reasonable way.
Discrimination arising from disability can only occur if it is known that a person has a disability or it can be reasonably expected that a person is disabled.

For example, Vikram, who has an assistance dog, is not allowed to enter his local mobile library because staff say there is not enough room for his dog. This may be discrimination arising from disability unless it can be justified (e.g. the dog poses a genuine health and safety risk as opposed to merely being inconvenient for staff).

Victimisation occurs when a person is treated badly because they have exercised their rights under the Equality Act 2010, such as making or supporting a complaint or raising a grievance about discrimination, or because they are suspected to have done so or that they may do any of these things.

An example provided by the Government Equalities Office in its Equality Act 2010 guidance is as follows: “Fabio makes a formal complaint against his Primary Care Trust because he feels that the Trust has discriminated against him because he is gay. The complaint is resolved through the organisation’s grievance procedure. However, as a result of making the complaint Fabio is subsequently removed from his GP list. This is victimisation.” 

A person who makes or supports a malicious complaint is not protected.

Three types of harassment are prohibited under the Equality Act 2010 that are relevant to service providers:

  • harassment that is related to a particular protected characteristic (with relation to public service users, the relevant protected characteristics are disability, gender reassignment, race, and sex);
  • sexual harassment; and
  • less favourable treatment of a person because they submit to or reject sexual harassment or harassment related to sex or gender reassignment.

Although the protected characteristics of sexual orientation or religion or belief are not covered in the definition of harassment, unwanted conduct related to either of these protected characteristics, which results in a person suffering a detriment, would come under direct discrimination.

Harassment related to a protected characteristic

This type of harassment takes place when a service provider engages in unwanted/unwelcome conduct (such as written words or abuse, physical gestures, jokes etc.) that is related to a person’s protected characteristic and which has a purpose or effect of:

  • violating the service user’s dignity; or
  • creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the service user

This unwelcome conduct needs to be connected with a person’s relevant protected characteristic.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment occurs when a person engages in unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, including sexual advances, touching, sexual jokes or displaying of pornographic material and this conduct has a purpose or effect of:

  • violating the service user’s dignity; or
  • creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the service user

Less favourable treatment because of submission or rejection of sexual harassment or harassment related to sex or gender reassignment

This type of harassment occurs when a person is treated less favourably because s/he has submitted to, or rejected, unwelcome behaviour of sexual nature or which is related to sex or gender reassignment, and this unwanted conduct has a purpose or effect of:

  • violating the service user’s dignity; or
  • creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the service user

Keywords

Tags Open / Close

Related subjects Open / Close

Rate this page