Wednesday 16th June 2010
New streamlined procedure for obtaining information about potential discrimination and equality of term cases
One of the ways in which the Equality Act 2010 streamlines discrimination law is by replacing a series of nine individual questionnaires about possible discrimination (for sex, disability, sexual orientation etc), with a single set of paperwork (guidance and forms) for all types of discrimination. There will also be new guidance and forms for equality of terms issues (formally known as the equal pay provisions).
We are consulting on the draft paperwork for obtaining information about potential discrimination and equality of term cases. The new paperwork will come into use when the Equality Act 2010 comes into force later this year.
Discrimination law currently provides a process for a person who thinks that he or she may have been unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised to obtain information from the person they think has acted unlawfully against them. The process allows an employee or a consumer of a service or goods for example to request information before deciding whether to present a claim to an employment tribunal or court.
A prospective claimant can ask to obtain background information to assist their claim, e.g. relative numbers of men and women in the workplace, or their racial background, or ask about the reasons for the particular action which may be discrimination. The questions and the answers are admissible as evidence in a case brought under discrimination law and the court or tribunal may draw inferences from a failure by the respondent to answer the questions posed or from evasive or equivocal answers.
The person may ask questions either on a form prescribed by the Government or in some other way, for example by letter. There are currently nine different sets of forms covering all the current equality strands. These include forms for possible sex discrimination, race discrimination, age discrimination in employment only, equality of terms etc. GEO is currently responsible for some of the forms (www.equalities.gov.uk), whilst other Government Departments are responsible for the rest of the others.
Source: Government Equalities Office
See also: Equal Opportunities and Diversity in the Workplace at the jml Training Site