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Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act became law on 1st October 2010. It replaces previous equality legislation and is intended to strengthen equality law and to make it more transparent and easier to understand. The Act strengthens and extends protection to cover nine protected characteristics and is relevant to the University both as an employer and service provider.

What are protected characteristics?

Protected characteristics are the grounds upon which discrimination is unlawful.

The protected characteristics defined under the Act are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religionor belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

The Act has also extended the definitions of discrimination

What does the Act prohibit?

Direct Discrimination
Occurs when someone is treated less favourably than another person because of a protected characteristic they have or are thought to have or because they associate with someone who has a protected characteristic.

Discrimination based on association
This is direct discrimination against an individual because they associate with another person who possesses a protected characteristic.

Discrimination based on perception
This is direct discrimination against an individual because others think they possess a particular characteristic.

Indirect discrimination
This can occur when there is a condition or rule, policy or practice that applies to everyone but particularly disadvantages people who share a protected characteristic.

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. Individuals are also protected from harassment because of association and perception.

Third party harassment
Liability may exist for harassment of staff and students by third parties.

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.

What is the University doing in response to the Equality Act?

As a public sector organisation, the University will have due regard to the need to:

  • Eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited under the Act;
  • Advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a protected characteristic and persons who do not share it;
  • Foster good relations between persons who share a protected characteristics and those who do not.

A detailed briefing on the Equality Act and its implications for Northumbria can be accessed here

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