Equality Act Enforcement Inquiry

 

The Women and Equalities Committee have produced a report into “Enforcing the Equality Act: the law and the role of the EHRC”.

Disability evidence

Two Reasonable Access trustees, Doug Paulley and Esther Leighton, gave oral evidence to the Committee. Both are cited regularly throughout the report.

(A more accessible version made utilising the disability exemptions of the Copyright Act 2014) 

Our view

Overall, we think this is a very positive report.

We welcome the robust conclusions that individualised enforcement of the Equality Act places an intolerable burden on individuals, that this fundamentally undermines compliance with the Act and that this must change.

We agree that the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) should make more use of its unique powers, and that other Regulatory, Investigative and Ombudsman bodies should be more proactive in monitoring and compelling compliance with the Act.

We also welcome the recommended change to legal aid, and the introduction of Qualified One-Way Costs Shifting – a critical issue on which Reasonable Access trustees actively campaign.

We are delighted that the Committee firmly rejected the Ministry of Justice and Government Equality Office responses, which had accepted current model of individual enforcement as unavoidable and “the nature of adversarial systems”. It is also great to expose the disparity between the financial and other remedies available, and the financial costs of enforcement.

We would disagree that the PSED and gender-pay gap reporting requirements are the only proactive duties in the Equality Act.  Service providers are under an anticipatory duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people. (Employers should also be subject to a similar obligation.) Organisations are required to take reasonable actions to ensure accessibility before a disabled person attempts to access their services. It is a shame the Committee did not make recommendations that the EHRC enforce Action or Improvement plans as part of driving gradual systemic change.

While undertaking this enquiry, the committee was separately investigating the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) in settlements. The cross-over is apposite. The Committee recognised the negative impacts of NDAs and the risk of adverse costs on individuals complaining about discrimination. The report quotes Reasonable Access trustee Esther, who recommended unambiguous legal guidance stating that refusing an NDA should not be considered an unreasonable failure to settle. We are delighted that the committee has adopted this recommendation.

We were astonished to discover the EHRC’s range of powers, and how poorly and infrequently these have been used. The frequency and severity of reports – e.g. 50,000 yearly instances of one (easily recordable) type of discrimination for one protected characteristic in one geographical area – makes clear that the EHRC needs to be far more assertive.

Several regulatory, investigatory and ombudsman bodies made clear to the Committee that they had not heard of the Public Sector Equality Duty. We discovered that regulators, including the Financial Ombudsman Service, can make binding requirements forcing the organisations it regulates to make changes to policies and practices. The committee was clear that these bodies should not just rely on reports from individuals, but should proactively monitor, and compel, compliance with the Equality Act.

We were sad to note that the evidence in other witness submissions made clear that a range of protected characteristics experience similar burdens of enforcement, with which we are so familiar. While some aspects are unique to disability, such as “proof of legal disability”, we noted that organisations find other ways to exploit intrusive personal information when defending legal claims made on other protected characteristics.

What’s next?

We are reticent to be hopeful for meaningful change, given the Government’s insulting reply to the (excellent) 2016 Lords committee report on the Equality Act 2010 and Disability.

We expect the Government’s response in three months or so; though it may be delayed by the summer recess and by the focus on Brexit.

In an ideal world, the excellent recommendations in this report would make Reasonable Access redundant; however, we expect to continue in our work to support disabled people to challenge the discrimination they experience.

Background information

The Women and Equalities Select Committee report:

Absence of Disability from the Summary

We should note that the committee did not intend to shun ‘disability’ as a protected characteristic in the first sentence. They have reassured us that this was to reflect that while in other protected characteristics the Equality Act mandates equal treatment (formative equality), it mandates different treatment in disability as this is required to achieve something approaching equality of outcome (substantive or transformative equality). Despite this apparent “omission”, we feel that the overall report is an accurate representation of disability-related issues.

Reasonable Access

Reasonable Access is a small organisation led by disabled people. We want to empower other disabled people in the UK to assert and enforce their right to access through peer assistance and information provision.

In practice, this covers a range of activities including:

  • Asking about disability access.
  • Challenging disability access problems.
  • Pushing back against access refusals.
  • Making informal complaints about access failings.
  • Dealing with poor responses to access problems and complaints.
  • Escalating complaints to more formal and serious modes.
  • Taking legal cases with and without lawyer representation and support.

135 Replies to “Equality Act Enforcement Inquiry”

  1. Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed! Very helpful information specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such information a lot. I was seeking this certain information for a long time. Thank you and good luck.| а

  2. First off I want to say great blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your head prior to writing. I have had a difficult time clearing my mind in getting my ideas out there. I do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Cheers!| а

  3. It’s the best time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you some interesting things or tips. Maybe you could write next articles referring to this article. I desire to read even more things about it!| а

  4. hello there and thank you for your information – I’ve certainly picked up anything new from right here. I did however expertise some technical points using this website, since I experienced to reload the website a lot of times previous to I could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your hosting is OK? Not that I am complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will sometimes affect your placement in google and could damage your high quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords. Anyway I’m adding this RSS to my email and could look out for much more of your respective intriguing content. Make sure you update this again soon.| а

  5. You’re so cool! I do not believe I’ve read through anything like that before. So wonderful to discover someone with a few unique thoughts on this issue. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This website is something that’s needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!| а

  6. With havin so much written content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright infringement? My website has a lot of completely unique content I’ve either created myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my agreement. Do you know any ways to help reduce content from being ripped off? I’d definitely appreciate it.| а

  7. Unquestionably believe that which you stated. Your favorite justification appeared to be on the web the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while people think about worries that they just do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks| а

  8. Have you ever thought about writing an e-book or guest authoring on other websites? I have a blog centered on the same subjects you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my subscribers would value your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e-mail.| а

  9. Hello there! I know this is kinda off topic but I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest authoring a blog article or vice-versa? My website addresses a lot of the same topics as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other. If you’re interested feel free to shoot me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Great blog by the way!| а

  10. Hello There. I discovered your blog the use of msn. This is a very neatly written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will certainly return.| а

  11. I’m impressed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something which too few men and women are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I found this in my search for something concerning this.| а

  12. Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your weblog? My blog is in the exact same niche as yours and my users would genuinely benefit from a lot of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this alright with you. Thank you!| а

  13. Excellent goods from you, man. I’ve have in mind your stuff previous to and you’re simply extremely fantastic. I really like what you’ve acquired here, really like what you’re saying and the way by which you say it. You’re making it enjoyable and you still take care of to stay it sensible. I can not wait to read far more from you. That is really a wonderful site.| а

  14. Thanks for your marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it, you are a great author.I will make sure to bookmark your blog and will eventually come back later in life. I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great writing, have a nice afternoon!| а

  15. Wonderful goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you’re just too magnificent. I actually like what you have acquired here, really like what you are saying and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of to keep it sensible. I can not wait to read much more from you. This is really a great web site.| а

  16. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates. I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.| а

  17. Greetings I am so delighted I found your web site, I really found you by mistake, while I was browsing on Bing for something else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say kudos for a incredible post and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to go through it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the superb job.| а

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.