Choices and Rights had two workers that provided advice and support to disabled people who had been discriminated against. We have had training in respect of the Equality Act (formally the Disability Discrimination Act) , and many of us have first hand experience of taking disability discrimination cases to mediation, small claims court, and employment tribunal. Although we no longer have the workers in post, we are still able to offer initial advice on these issues.
CARDC are recognised as the local “experts” on disability and in particular the Equality Act in relation to disability.
What is the Equality Act?
The Equality Act is a law which protects you from discrimination. It means that discrimination or unfair treatment on the basis of certain personal characteristics, such as age, is now against the law in almost all cases.
The Equality Act applies to discrimination based on:
- Gender reassignment
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
- Marriage or civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
How does the law protect me from age discrimination?
You are protected from a number of different things under the Equality Act:
|Direct discrimination||This is when you’re treated less favourably because of a protected characteristic; for example, if your local gym refuses to give you a membership because of your age.|
|Indirect discrimination||This is when a good or service has criteria which have the effect of being discriminatory against a person because of a protected characteristic like their age. For example, if you can pay for an item in instalments but only if you are working, this would disadvantage retired people.|
|Harassment||This is when you experience behaviour that makes you feel intimidated, humiliated, or degraded, or that creates a hostile environment. For example, if a nurse repeatedly makes offensive jokes about your age. This also applies to comments or jokes made about someone you associate with, such as a partner.|
|Victimisation||This is when you are treated unfairly as a result of making a complaint about discrimination or giving evidence when someone else makes a complaint.|
As well as the above, the Equality Act also means that public bodies, such as local authorities, hospital trusts and police authorities now have to prevent discrimination. This is called the Public Sector Equality Duty.
Public bodies must consider the needs of people with protected characteristics, including older people, when planning or carrying out their public duties or services. For example, if a local bus service is to be cancelled but it’s used a lot by older people to get to local health services, then this should be considered when the decision is made.
In what situations does the Equality Act apply?
The Equality Act covers a wide range of different types of places and organisations. The law applies to places that provide goods or services, and it also covers employment matters too. That includes, for example:
|Health services||Your doctor’s surgery
|Employers||Your treatment in the workplace
When you apply for a job
|Public service||Local council services
What do I do if I have been illegally discriminated against?
How you take action will depend on who your complaint is against but here’s a general guide of what you should do:
Step one: Find out about the complaints procedure for the organisation that you want to complain about. For example:
- If it’s your employer, you may wish to talk to your manager, your union or HR
- If it’s a shop or hotel, you may need to contact the manager or customer services
- If it’s your GP surgery, ask to see a copy of their complaints procedure
Step two: Send in details of your complaint, what happened, and when. Make it clear that you are complaining about age discrimination. It can also help to suggest solutions, for example, if you want an apology or the person responsible to be retrained.
Step three: If you’re unhappy with the response, you may have to go to the next step of the complaints procedure (for example, you may need to contact a head office, ombudsman, or tribunal) or seek some further advice if you’re not sure what to do.
For more information about any of the above/ please contact Choices and Rights Disability Coalition
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