Equal Opportunity and Diversity
HZL recognise that the diverse nature of the ever changing society that we live and work in poses many challenges in both our personal and working environments.
HZL has extensive experience in dealing with Equal Opportunity and Diversity issues within the workplace in both the training and operational environments and can support and advise you on promoting effective inclusion for everyone.
Prior to October 2010 there where many different laws to protect people from discrimination on the grounds of:
- Sexual orientation (whether being lesbian, gay, bisexual or heterosexual)
- Disability (or because of something connected with their disability)
- Religion or belief
- Being a transsexual person (Trans sexuality is where someone has changed, is changing or has proposed changing their sex – called ‘gender reassignment’ in law)
- Having just had a baby or being pregnant
- Being married or in a civil partnership (this applies only at work or if someone is being trained for work), and
- Age (this applies only at work or if someone is being trained for work).
The Equality Act 2010 simplifies the current laws and puts them all together in one piece of legislation. It also makes the law stronger in some areas, so depending on your circumstances, the new Act may protect you more.
TYPES OF DISCRIMINATION:
Direct discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably than another person because of a protected characteristic they have or are thought to have (see perception discrimination below), or because they associate with someone who has a protected characteristic (see discrimination by association below).
Discrimination by Association:
Discrimination by association already applies to race, religion or belief and sexual orientation and has now been extended to cover age, disability, gender reassignment and sex. This is direct discrimination against someone because they associate with another person who possesses a protected characteristic.
Perception discrimination already applies to age, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation and has now been extended to cover disability, gender reassignment and sex. This is direct discrimination against an individual because others think they possess a particular protected characteristic and it applies even if the person does not actually possess that characteristic.
Indirect discrimination already applies to age, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnerships and has now been extended to cover disability and gender reassignment. Indirect discrimination can occur when you have a condition, rule, policy or even a practice in your company that applies to everyone but particularly disadvantages people who share a protected characteristic. Indirect discrimination can be justified if you can show that you acted reasonably in managing your business, i.e. that it is ‘a proportionate means of achieving’.
Harassment is “unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual”. Harassment applies to all protected characteristics except for pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnerships. Employees will now be able to complain of behaviour that they find offensive even if it is not directed at them and the complainant need not possess the relevant characteristic themselves.
Third Party Harassment:
Third Party Harassment already applies to sex and has now been extended to cover age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation. The Equality Act makes you potentially liable for harassment of your employees by people (third parties) who are not employees of your company, such as customers or clients. You will only be liable when harassment has occurred on at least two previous occasions, you are aware that it has taken place, and have not taken reasonable steps to prevent it from happening again.
Victimisation occurs when an employee is treated badly because they have made or supported a complaint or raised a grievance under the Equality Act; or because they are suspected of doing so. An employee is not protected from victimisation if they have maliciously made or supported an untrue complaint. There is no longer a need to compare treatment of a complainant with that of a person who has not made or supported a complaint under the Act.