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‘Direct’ discrimination

A person cannot be subjected to a detriment because they possess a protected characteristic such as gender, race or disability amongst others.

‘Indirect’ discrimination.

Indirect discrimination applies where a policy causes a particular group of people to suffer a disadvantage. In such a case, the policy can only be applied if it is justified in the circumstances. For example, inflexible working hours could indirectly discriminate against women who are more likely to be responsible for childcare than men. This could be justified, however, if operational requirements will simply not permit greater flexibility.

Disabled person obligations

Where a policy places a disabled person at a disadvantage, there is an obligation to make a reasonable adjustment. For example, where a person has mobility problems it may be reasonable to ensure that there is a ramp providing access for wheelchairs.

Discrimination does not have to be deliberate for liability under the Equality Act to arise. Due to the risk of unconscious discrimination, an equality impact assessment should be undertaken whenever a new policy or measure is taken.

Liability under the Equality Act 2010

Where an employee has alleged that dismissal is discriminatory, unlike unfair dismissal, there is no requirement for an employee to have a minimum of two years’ service to bring a claim.

There is also no cap on the compensation that can be awarded and the employee can claim compensation in respect of injury to feelings.

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