What is The Equality Act?

The Equality Act became law in 2010. It covers everyone in Britain and protects people from discrimination, harassment and victimisation. 

The Act provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all. It provides Britain with a discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.

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 is now against the law in almost all cases.

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Understanding the Law

The Equality Act applies to discrimination based on:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race, religion or belief
  • Sex, and sexual orientation
 

In discrimination cases, where there has been a breach of the Equality Act 2010 by the employer, the two most important categories are injury to feelings and loss of earnings. Unlike unfair dismissal, there is no limit on the amount of compensation that can be awarded in discrimination cases.

Under the Equality Act you are protected from discrimination:

  • when you are in the workplace
  • when you use public services like healthcare (for example, visiting your doctor or local hospital) or education (for example, at your school or college)
  • when you use businesses and other organisations that provide services and goods (like shops, restaurants, and cinemas)
  • when you use transport
  • when you join a club or association (for example, your local tennis club)
  • when you have contact with public bodies like your local council or government departments
 

The Equality Act also requires public bodies (like local councils, hospitals, and publicly-funded service providers) to consider how their decisions and policies affect people with different protected characteristics. The public body also should have evidence to show how it has done this.

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