The Equality Act 2010 – key areas for employers and how to meet the challenge
The main provisions of the Act came into force on 1 October 2010. Who is protected?
As previously, job applicants, employees (and former employees), partners (and former partners) and workers (and former workers) are protected. Which characteristics are protected?
As previously, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation are protected. The Act widens the definitions of disability and gender reassignment. What conduct is prohibited?
Direct discrimination (treating someone less favourably because of a protected characteristic) – applies to all protected characteristics. It includes discrimination by perception or association, which applies to all protected characteristics with the exception of marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity. As previously, there is a ‘proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’ defence in relation to age only.
Indirect discrimination (where a provision, criteria or practice which is applied equally puts or would put people with a particular protected characteristic at a disadvantage) – applies to all protected characteristics, with the exception of pregnancy and maternity. As previously, there is a ‘proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’ defence.
Harassment (unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them) – this includes harassment by perception or association. Liability for harassment by third parties is extended to all relevant protected characteristics. This arises where a third party, for example a supplier or client, harasses a person in the course of their employment and the employer has failed to take reasonable steps to prevent it....
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