Memorandum submitted by Discrimination Law Association

The Discrimination Law Association

1. The Discrimination Law Association ("DLA") is a membership organisation established to promote good community relations by the advancement of education in the field of anti-discrimination law and practice. It achieves this by, among other things, the promotion and dissemination of advice and information; the development and co-ordination of contacts with discrimination law practitioners and similar people and organisations in the UK and internationally. The DLA is concerned with achieving an understanding of the needs of victims of discrimination amongst lawyers, law makers and others and of the necessity for the complainant-centred approach to anti-discrimination law and practice. With this in mind the DLA seeks to secure improvements in discrimination law and practice in the United Kingdom, Europe and at an international level.

2. The passing of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 ("the Act") marked a major milestone in the securing of rights for disabled people. The Act has undoubtedly made a major difference to disabled people in employment situations - particularly in enabling retention, as a result of the obligation to make reasonable adjustments. The number of employment tribunal claims relating to disability discrimination has steadily increased. The latest employment statistics (see
) indicate that 5,533 employment tribunal claims claiming disability discrimination were lodged in 2006/2007, although only 3% of disability claims were successful at tribunal (the same percentage as those alleging race discrimination) - many of course settle before trial.

3. There have been some decisions which have had a major impact on the way in which the legislation has worked, not merely in the courts but also "on the ground" - in the workplace. These include in particular Archibald v Fife - where the expansive nature of the reasonable adjustment duty was made clear - and - prior to Malcolm, which will be discussed later - Clark v Novacold, which made clear that disability discrimination is different, and that the focus in cases where treatment was related in some way to disability was whether an employer could justify it or not.

4. The Malcolm case has caused serious concerns amongst discrimination practitioners - not just because of its potential legal effects (in particular, rendering the UK government in breach of its duty to effectively transpose the European Employment Framework Directive) but because of the message that it sends out about disability rights and the DDA (in particular, comments as to a refusal of service in a café to a guide dog owner because of the dog, rather than any disability related reasoning. ).

5. This submission will answer those questions under the headings posed in the DWP press notice that the DLA feels qualified to deal with.

6. However, at the outset, we wish to raise the issue of the definition of disability. Although a question not posed by the Committee (other than in the context of the Coleman decision) the definition is nevertheless critical to any examination of disability equality legislation. At present, unless the definition in the DDA is met - or an individual can rely upon the European Employment Framework Directive - there can be no claim under the DDA.

7. Ever since the DDA was passed there has been a strong body of criticism about its definition of disability on the basis that it derives from the medical model, focusing as it does on the functional limitations of an individual.

8. The social model of disability identifies "disabling barriers" rather than "impairment" as the problem to be tackled. Disabling barriers are the attitudinal, economic, and/or environmental factors preventing certain people from experiencing equality of opportunity because of an impairment or perceived impairment. The term 'disability' is used to describe a social experience. A disabled person might say, therefore, "My impairment is the fact that I can't walk; I am disabled by the fact that the local authority building is accessed only via a flight of stairs". By contrast the medical model focuses on impairment as being the cause of limited opportunities and life chances. The social model not only provides the foundation for the modern disability rights movement, but also provides the basic premise for any law prohibiting disability discrimination.

9. The present definition of disability can cause considerable difficulties for Claimants. In particular, where it is unclear whether or not an individual meets the definition - and this is relatively common - they will be "put to proof", which will usually mean an extensive witness statement explaining what they can and cannot do; an expert medical report; and a hearing at which the claimant will be cross examined. This is a costly and often distressing experience.

10. The definition is particularly problematic for people with mental health issues, given the requirement that the effects of an impairment must be "long term" (i.e. likely to last or have lasted for more than 12 months). If, for example, an individual has depression for two months; they no longer have depression; but an employer refuses to employ/promote them because of this, there is nothing that they can do under the current Act.

11. It is our view that new equality legislation should reflect the social model of disability, focussing not on the individual's impairment but on the reasons for treatment and/or barriers placed in the way of disabled people.

12. We would suggest that the definition of disability should be one which give protection from discrimination to everyone who has (or has had or is perceived to have) an impairment without requiring the effects of that impairment to be substantial or long-term - as proposed by the Disability Rights Commission.

13. In addition, whilst the definition of "persons with disabilities" in the UN Convention is not ideal, it is certainly an improvement upon our current definition and the government will need to consider its implications when ratifying the Convention.

How can the Equality Bill open up opportunities in employment, particularly for disabled people, carers and pensioners

14. The equality bill provides an opportunity to positively encourage the employment of disabled people, carers and pensioners, not merely by tackling the difficulties with the current legislation, but also by expanding on opportunities for positive action; by creating an effective single equality duty; and by full and effective use of procurement. These issues are expanded upon below.

How should the Equality Bill respond to the decision in the Malcolm case in respect of disability rights in employment?

15. The decision in London Borough of Lewisham -v- Malcolm has had a major impact on claims brought under the Act.

16. Whilst it is true that the majority if not all employment cases involve a failure to make reasonable adjustments; and that this together with the expanded definition of harassment means that the legal effects in employment are likely to be limited, the Malcolm decision nevertheless causes difficulties in the employment arena.

17. In addition, the reasonable adjustment duty can be a cumbersome when dealing with a "one off" act (such as dismissal) and there may also be time-limit issues, given that a claim based on a breach of the duty must be brought within three months.

18. Whilst there are cogent legal arguments as to why the decision should not apply in the employment context, we are nevertheless aware of claims of disability related discrimination having to be abandoned as tribunals apply the decision in the employment context. This is particularly problematic in recruitment cases, where the duty to make adjustments, which would otherwise be relied upon, is only applicable where an employer knows or ought reasonably to be expected to know, that an individual is disabled and is likely to be affected in that way. In such cases, there will not be a duty to make reasonable adjustments and so there will be no basis on which an individual can bring a claim.

19. In addition to the practical effect in the employment tribunal, it is also the case that the principle of disability related discrimination placed the obligation on an employer to justify any treatment related to a disabled person's disability. This was a very effective tool for claimants and trades unions to use in changing the behaviour of employers towards disabled employees.

20. Now, unless a claim falls within the narrow confines of direct discrimination, the onus is on the employee to identify reasonable adjustments that might be made - i.e. a provision criterion or practice placing them at a substantial disadvantage.

21. This shift may affect the behavioural changes of employers that the DDA has undoubtedly contributed to.

22. There are two further issues to be considered in relation to Malcolm: firstly, the effect it has had upon the government's compliance - or otherwise - with the employment framework directive; and secondly, what should ideally be done to remedy its effects.

23. The provisions of the DDA in its current form as it relates to employment are intended to comply with Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation. This was made explicit in the process that lead up to the amendments made by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Amendment) Regulations 2003 (S.I. 2003 No. 1673): see the explanatory note.

24. The Directive does not have a concept of disability related discrimination. However it does have a concept of indirect discrimination.

25. The view taken by the Secretary of State when making the 2003 regulations was that by having a provision to be understood in the sense of Novacold and a reasonable adjustment provision it was not necessary to also have any provision dealing with indirect discrimination.

26. If reasoning in Malcolm is applied in the case of section 3A the basic premise for this argument has disappeared.

27. The second issue is that of what to do to ensure that the parliamentary intention as expressed in Baroness Hale's opinion in the Lords in Malcolm is fully represented in any future legislation.

28. Whilst indirect discrimination is an option - and we have not yet had an opportunity to consider the very recently published government consultation on introducing indirect disability discrimination to deal with the Malcolm consequences - we do have concerns as to its ability to plug the gaps left by Malcolm.

How should the government improve protection of carers in equality legislation, following the decision in the Coleman case

29. Whilst a decision is awaited in Coleman as to whether or not the DDA can be read so as to be compatible with the decision of the European Court of Justice, it is our view that whatever the outcome, the legislation should make coverage of discrimination by association explicit.

30. In addition, the legislation should also cover those who are treated less favourably because of a perception that they are disabled. This is in order to give full effect to the words of the directive which prohibits less favourable treatment "on grounds of" disability.

31. We would also point out, however, that the decision in Coleman means only that direct discrimination and harassment based on association with a disabled person must be prohibited under domestic legislation. It does not address the matter of flexible working - and in particular, it does not provide carers with a right to reasonable accommodation, which may be necessary in order to ensure their effective participation in the workplace. Specific measures - such as a right to flexible working, or a duty to make reasonable adjustments - should be considered for such workers.

How could the duties in goods facilities and services of the DDA be built on to deliver systemic changes

32. The goods facilities and services provisions - and in particular, the fact that the duty to make reasonable adjustments is anticipatory in nature - have the potential to drastically improve the lives and social participation of disabled people. The Court of Appeal decisions in Roads and Ryanair emphasised the importance of these duties and also the aim of the Act itself.

33. However, it is not difficult to see on any high street the number of service providers who have failed to comply with the reasonable adjustment duty specifically in relation to physical features. One of the reasons for this must lie in the fact that - particularly in comparison to employment cases - very few goods facilities and services cases have been brought and this in our view relates in part to the procedure and venue for such claims (on which, see below).

34. In any event, relying upon individuals to bring about systemic change through individual litigation places a heavy burden upon disabled people who, in many instances, experience discrimination on a daily basis which it would be time consuming and exhausting to challenge on each and every occasion.

35. Whilst the disability equality duty should address this to a great extent in the public sector, there is no such obligation at present in the private sector.

36. It is our view that consideration should be given to a radical reconsideration of the duty to make adjustments in relation to physical features. In particular, accessibility standards, such as those drafted under the Americans with Disabilities Act, enforceable by a local authority inspectorate, may provide greater certainty and remove the burden of ensuring an accessible environment from individual disabled people.

What is the draft EU Directive in GFS proposing and what are the implications for transposition of the new EU Directive for UK law

37. The directive will as presently drafted have a number of significant implications for domestic legislation. In particular, it will necessitate

ˇ the introduction of the concept of indirect discrimination to disability discrimination legislation

ˇ the introduction of a concept of harassment for a reason relating to disability in services and premises

ˇ changes to the housing provisions (expanding the duty to make reasonable adjustments);

ˇ expansion of the duty to make adjustments in relation to transport and education

ˇ shifting of the burden of proof

Is the draft EU directive welcomed

38. The draft directive is extremely welcome and it is particularly positive that it is a single directive extending to all the grounds, and not disability alone, as was mooted at one point. It is important that there is consistency and coverage across all the discrimination grounds.

39. Whilst it is extremely positive that there will be some consistency of approach across Europe in relation to disability discrimination, there are nevertheless some areas of the directive which are of concern.

40. These are in particular;

ˇ no addressing of the definition of disability

ˇ the relatively broad justification for discrimination by insurance providers

ˇ no requirement to provide alternative methods of service

ˇ effect of Article 4(3) that the directive is without prejudice to European community and domestic rules covering goods and services

ˇ no mention of accessibility of manufactured goods

41. In addition, there is no protection for multiple discrimination, a subject to which we will return below.

Does the equality bill incorporate the provisions of the draft directive?

42. There is very little detail in the public domain as to what the government is intending to address in the bill and it is not clear at present to what extent the equality bill will incorporate the provisions of the draft directive. It is clear though that in relation to disability the government is not proposing to introduce at present provisions which would transpose the draft directive as it stands.


How can it be made easier for disabled people, carers and pensioners to bring and pursue cases in GFS?

43. There is a paucity of goods and services cases litigated. This is in our view not surprising, given the procedural difficulties which bringing such a case in the county court give rise to. In particular, cost at the outset for issuing a case; the fee attached to an allocation questionnaire; the possibility of a claim being listed in the fast or multi-track, meaning that the Claimant risks the possibility of considerable costs being awarded if they do not succeed in their claim, and delay.

44. It is clearly critical that disabled people - and indeed anyone bringing a discrimination claim - are able to enforce their rights under the equality legislation. The DLA recommends that the following be carefully considered:

a. The use of specialist institutions, such as ombudsmen, to investigate, conciliate and/or recommend resolution of discrimination cases. ACAS can no longer provide this kind of specialist support and consideration must be given either to properly funding ACAS or a similar body to carry out this kind of function for both employment and non-employment cases. The DLA considers that mediation or conciliation is particular relevant to non-employment cases, where the relationship between the provider of goods, services, housing, education is often a continuing one, so that early resolution is extremely important. In non-employment cases the compensation to be awarded at the end of formal litigation will rarely be proportionate to the delay that such litigation inevitably incurs.

b. Consideration of the benefits/disbenefits of specialist equality courts or tribunals rather than the current system under which employment related discrimination is litigated in the ET and non-employment related discrimination (where the same is outlawed) is justiciable in the county court

Should discrimination by association extent to GFS?

45. When the draft Directive is finalised, there would be a need for explicit protection against discrimination by association.

46. However, there are in any event sound reasons for such treatment being prohibited by the legislation.

47. As was said in the Advocate General's opinion in Coleman "directly targeting a person who has a particular characteristic is not the only way of discriminating against him or her; there are other, more subtle and less obvious ways of doing so. One way of undermining the dignity and autonomy of people who belong to a certain group is to target not them but third persons who are closely associated with them and do not themselves belong to the group. A robust conception of equality entails that these subtler forms of discrimination should also be caught by anti-discrimination legislation, as they too, affect the persons belonging to suspect classifications"

48. In the interests of consistency coherence and equality we would recommend that discrimination on the basis of association - and indeed perception - be prohibited under the goods, facilities, and premises provisions.

What are the implications of the Malcolm case and how should the equality bill take these into account

49. It is our view that the equality bill must include provisions to remedy the effects of Malcolm across the full scope of the bill, including areas outside the field of employment. Whilst there are reasons for distinguishing Malcolm in the context of employment (and indeed post-16 education) it is very difficult because of the drafting of the provisions to make such cogent arguments in relation to goods facilities and services.

50. In addition, in premises cases it is perfectly clear that courts are bound by the Malcolm decision, and, as the duty to make adjustments is much more restrictive in premises, there are not the same options for mitigating the effects of Malcolm as there are in employment, goods and services and education.

51. It is our experience that premises cases have had to be abandoned in light of Malcolm - for example, where a disabled person has failed to pay rent because their depression has resulted in their failing to complete a housing benefit form, then they will no longer have a basis on which to resist any possession proceedings brought against them on this basis.

52. It is important, however, to ensure that objective justification applies in order to avoid the situation raised in Malcolm, where the justification provisions were so restrictive that landlords were left with no means of evicting an individual, pre-Malcolm, where, for example, arrears arose for a reason relating to disability.

How effective are the provisions in Part 3 of the DDA on buying selling and letting

53. Apart from the issues raised by Malcolm, we have limited experience of the duty to make adjustments in the housing field. And in fact we are unaware of these provisions having been used widely at all.

54. It is clear however that they are restrictive when compared to the expansive reasonable adjustment provisions in relation to goods facilities and services.

55. Of particular note is the fact that there is no anticipatory duty to make adjustments. In addition, there must be an individual request for the adjustment, and specific other conditions must apply before the duty is owed.

56. We would suggest that, again in the interests of consistency and in order to make the provisions as effective as possible, the premises duties to make reasonable adjustments should be made anticipatory in nature. Given that the steps to be taken are limited in any event by what is "reasonable", this should not impose an undue burden upon landlords and would result in more effective removal of barriers to disabled people's participation.

How could a disability equality duty in the public sector be built upon within a Single Equality Duty? Is a single duty desirable? Will there be unintended consequences for disabled people or disability rights?

57. The equality duties have been used as the basis to challenge a number of public authority decisions, and the courts have been particularly receptive to arguments about their nature. In the context of disability, for example, the case of R (on the application of Chavda and Others) v Harrow London Borough Council was particularly useful in reinforcing the need for local authority councillors to be aware of the duties and to ensure their application when making decisions about budgets for social care.

58. There are at present 3 different equality duties and with the intention to introduce duties in respect of religion or belief, age and sexual orientation, it is important that there is a strong, coherent framework for these duties. This is particularly the case with the specific duties which, whilst extremely important in providing a "plan" for what an authority is to do, have confused some local authorities because of their differences.

59. It is important, however, that the key elements of a disability equality duty are preserved within a single duty - in particular, the duty to have due regard to the need to take steps to take account of disabled people's disabilities, even where that involves treating them more favourably. This has been particularly effective in reinforcing the reach of the reasonable adjustment duty, and in promoting substantive, as opposed to formal, equality.

60. The other elements of the disability equality duty - equally important - i.e. harassment, public participation and positive attitudes are equally important as regards the other equality grounds, and these should be reflected in a single duty.

61. It is equally important, however, to address the nature of the bodies to whom the duties apply. While the public sector is given greater responsibility to promote and achieve equality in carrying out its functions, wider governmental policy is encouraging a significantly increased role for private and voluntary organisations to carry out the functions of public authorities at every level. This inevitably raises concerns not only regarding how public services will be provided but also about how private and voluntary sector providers operate as employers of staff. Applying statutory equality duties to public authorities using the definition of "public authority" contained in s.6 of the HRA 1998 will not necessarily bring a private or voluntary sector body fully within the reach of the statutory equality duties as such duties will apply to bodies that are not "pure" public authorities ("hybrid authorities") only when they are carrying out "functions of a public nature" and only in respect of such functions.

62. Firstly, not all functions of a "hybrid authority" will be functions of a "public" nature. Important amongst possible "private" functions will be the role of employing staff. Secondly, this definition leaves untouched the private or voluntary sector body's activities which are clearly not functions of a public nature. For example, a company with a contract to build/manage a prison will be a public authority in respect of much of what it does in managing the prison but probably not for its role in the construction of the prison and certainly not in its other activities, for example providing security guards for banks and other insurance companies. Wholly outside any statutory "public equality duty" role are private companies which have contracts with public authorities to carry out works or to supply goods PPP and PFI schemes involve a complex matrix of contractors, some of whom may , for some aspects of the scheme, come within the definition of "public authority", but some, probably most, will not.

63. It is critical in the DLA's view that this be addressed in a single equality bill.

How could procurement be made a more effective lever for equality outcomes?

64. The experience under the Race Relations Act demonstrates that more is needed generally to ensure that public authorities, especially central government departments, fully embrace and implement their positive duty to promote equality. In particular, despite comprehensive guidance prepared by the CRE in 2003, and subsequently by the DRC, and EOC, that illustrated how at each stage of the procurement process, a public authority should, and could, while complying in full with the requirements of EU law, take their race equality duty into account, there is very little evidence of this occurring. CRE guidance illustrated that the race equality duty was relevant not only to contracts involving the provision of services to the public but also internal services and purchases of certain types of goods and work. Critical, and of general concern, are the ways in which, through procurement, a public authority can secure improvements in equality of opportunity within the contractors workforce.

65. In the absence of (or even alongside) a private sector equality duty, public procurement is a critical lever for the promotion of equality within the private sector. Whilst the general duty as framed in the RRA, the DDA and the Equality Act 2006 should be sufficient to ensure that the equality duty is exercised in relation to procurement, we would recommend that the new legislation should make this explicit. This appears to be necessary to overcome the hesitation by public authorities, which, in turn, is based in part on the extremely cautious approach of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC). A clear statutory duty to apply equality considerations to all public procurement should overcome the problems that have arisen due to the reluctance of the OGC to recognise procurement as a "function" of public authorities.

Private Sector Duties

52. The DLA recommends specific consideration of the introduction of a private sector duty across all grounds and activities. This duty should not replicate the public sector duty but should recognise and accommodate the different sizes, structures and forms of accountability of private sector organisations.

53. In particular, to require employers to review and report periodically upon the potential impact of employment policies and practices upon equality of opportunity, to take appropriate remedial action to eliminate any identified or potential adverse impact, and to make reasonable accommodation where necessary would in our view be steps which whilst not imposing a significant burden on employers would assist in securing equality in the private sector. Most employers will know the gender and age of members of their workforce but it can be assumed that a smaller proportion in the private sector retain that kind of information in relation to ethnicity or disability. The DLA would therefore recommend a statutory requirement to monitor the composition of workforce, leaving it to the Secretary of State to determine:

(a) the precise level of the monitoring obligation to be borne by particular sizes of employer; and

(b) the grounds or the factor that are monitored (with a power to add to but not delete grounds already currently monitored).

54. There should perhaps be a duty, in addition to the monitoring duty, to publish the results on a periodic basis . For companies this could form part of their normal annual reports. There is already provision in the Companies Act 2006 for listed companies to report on workforce matters and for regulations to extend both the range of companies with such duties and the content of such reports. The EHRC should have the power to call for these data comparable to powers exercisable by the Health and Safety Executive, allowing a fixed period for them to be supplied. A failure to supply the data can be dealt with in broadly the same way as contemplated by s.32 of the Equality Act 2006 in relation to public authorities.

55. Pay audits are also particularly important, given the extensive pay gap which remains between men and women.

Access to Work

How can Access to Work better support people with mental illness and fluctuating illnesses?

56. DLA has particular concerns about the delays often experienced in obtaining assistance through Access to Work and the detrimental effect that this can have on a disabled person's attempt to remain in employment, or to take up employment.

57. DLA is also of the view that Access to Work should be used to better support people with mental health conditions and fluctuating conditions. At present, AtW is still largely considered in the context of physical disabilities. Many individuals with mental health conditions are unaware that they could receive assistance through AtW to start work or to obtain advice and support in overcoming barriers in employment. Given that individuals with mental health conditions are the most socially excluded group of people, all efforts must be used to retain them in employment or to get them back into work.

58. The starting point would be to ensure that AtW advisers are live to the issue of mental health and fluctuating conditions as conditions to which AtW can assist. Further publicity is required (i.e. through free publications which should be widely available) to demonstrate how AtW can assist. Examples include:

ˇ assist in the cost of re-training individuals who have had periods of absence from work through mental health problems. Retraining would address the effect of "deskilling" and would focus on rebuilding confidence and esteem;

ˇ provision of training in "soft" skills to assist in relationship building and communication skills

ˇ job specific training

ˇ training for colleagues and managers to help them to reintegrate the individual back to work, and to break down barriers and stigma surrounding mental health issues at work

ˇ where an individual suffers with an anxiety condition, AtW could pay for transport to/from work where use of public transport poses a barrier

ˇ provision of office space where an individual is unable to work in an open office environment due to mental health condition

ˇ provision of work facilities at home where flexibility is required

To what extent can Access to Work be included within individualised budgets?

59. DLA understands that AtW within individual budgets is currently being piloted and we await the outcome of the pilot schemes. Clearly, if AtW was to form part of the individual budget, individuals with mental health conditions and fluctuating conditions would need to be aware that they have access to AtW in the first place - see above.

How does disability fit in a single equality act?

60. A single equality act harmonising and "levelling up" provision across the grounds is clearly desirable. It is important that particular attention is paid to the inconsistencies in current disability legislation - the differing trigger points for the duty to make reasonable adjustments and the different approaches to justification being just two examples - and that these are addressed. It is also important that where necessary - for example, in relation to disability-related discrimination - a different approach is taken - harmonisation should not come at the expense of effective disability legislation.

Should the social model or medical model apply for disability?

61. We have set out above, in our introduction and also in relation to the definition of disability, why it is our view that the social model of disability should underpin any legislation prohibiting disability discrimination.

Multiple/intersection discrimination

62. Whilst a question has not been raised as to this, it is nevertheless important in our view to address a current gap in the legislation in relation to what is often termed "multiple discrimination".

63. This relates to the impact of the current provisions on people who suffer from discrimination on more than one ground. Such discrimination may be additive (a disabled woman whose employer discriminates on the grounds of sex and disability will be doubly disadvantaged by her combined disability and sex), or it may be intersectional (a disabled woman whose employer discriminates only against disabled women, but not against non-disabled women or disabled men will be uniquely disadvantaged by her combined disability and sex). Multiple discrimination (whether of the additive or intersectional variety) can be experienced by disabled women, elderly men or women, Asian women, Black men, lesbian women, and by those defined by reference to extensive grounds (Muslim women of South Asian extraction, for example, or British born young Black men).

11. Additive discrimination is open to challenge under current domestic law as long as those subject to it can fulfil the normal standards of proof in relation to each of the grounds of discrimination which they allege. But domestic law fails to address multiple discrimination when it takes the intersectional form. In Bahl v Law Society, for example, the claimant (an Asian woman) alleged that she had been discriminated against as a Black woman. A tribunal, finding in her favour, declared that she had been treated less favourably as a Black woman. (She was, in fact, the first Law Society office holder who was not both white and male.) The Employment Appeal Tribunal ([2003] IRLR 640) overturned the tribunal's decision, Elias J ruling that the tribunal erred in law 'in failing to distinguish between the elements of alleged race and sex discrimination'. The Court of Appeal ([2004] IRLR 799) upheld the EAT's approach, ruling that the tribunal had failed:


to identify what evidence goes to support a finding of race discrimination and what evidence goes to support a finding of sex discrimination. It would be surprising if the evidence for each form of discrimination was the same... In our judgment, it was necessary for the [employment tribunal] to find the primary facts in relation to each type of discrimination against each alleged discriminator and then to explain why it was making the inference which it did in favour of Dr. Bahl on whom lay the burden of proving her case.

12. Had Dr Bahl been either white or male, the first instance decision would have been immune from interference given the tribunal's finding of less favourable treatment in relation to a number of incidents and the inference permitted from such treatment and a difference in sex or (but not, it appears, and) race. As it was, Dr Bahl's claim had to be made by reference to white women and Black male comparators (actual or hypothetical) and could (in the former case) readily be defeated by evidence relating to the employer's non-discriminatory treatment of either group.[1]Such evidence would not, of course, disprove discrimination against Black women as Black women.

64. Similar issues arise in relation to indirect discrimination.

65. The Single equality act should ensure that action can be taken on the basis of a combination of prohibited grounds i.e on intersectional discrimination.


November 2008

[1] Though note that on the facts of the instant case there would have been no actual women or Black comparators.