The Equality Act 2010 makes certain types of discrimination unlawful. It replaces the Disability Discrimination Act, as well as other anti-discrimination legislation.
This means that if you experience discrimination in one of the areas listed below, you can take action in the civil courts:
These areas are considered ‘protected characteristics’ under the Equality Act.
The Equality Act applies in England, Wales and Scotland and gives protection in relation to employment, education, access to goods, facilities and services as well as in buying or renting land or property.
Under this legislation, all people diagnosed with HIV are considered to be ‘disabled’ regardless of their health status.
Being considered disabled gives people with HIV protection against discrimination in many aspects of employment, including the recruitment process. The legislation protects you from less favourable treatment in the following areas:
An employer can be held responsible not just for the discriminatory actions of the management or of the company itself, but also for the behaviour of other employees. For example if an HIV positive employee suffers harassment from his or her colleagues, and the employer cannot show that they took steps to try to prevent this happening, then the employer can be held responsible.
Probably the most important aspect of the legislation is the right to request reasonable adjustments. If there is a way of working or an aspect of the workplace which puts a disabled worker at a disadvantage, the employer must make all adjustments which are reasonable to remove that disadvantage. This means that employers must take reasonable steps so that the disabled worker can carry out his or her job without disadvantage.
The employer must normally be aware of the employee’s disability before they are expected to make reasonable adjustments.
Some examples of reasonable adjustments include:
What is ‘reasonable’ is determined on a case-by-case basis. An employer may consider how effective the change will be in avoiding the disadvantage a disabled employee would otherwise experience, its practicality, the cost based on the organisation’s resources and size and the availability of financial support.
For people with HIV, the most commonly requested adjustments tend to be time off for clinic appointments, changes in hours worked and changes to start or finish times.
Another important aspect of the legislation is that, except in very restricted circumstances, the employer is prohibited from asking job applicants health or disability related questions until the person has been offered a job.
Under the Equality Act, the following things could be unlawful discrimination by a healthcare or care provider if based on a protected characteristic:
Unfair treatment is not considered unlawful unless it is based on one of the protected characteristics.
Some examples include:
Terrence Higgins Trust receives many enquiries from people living with HIV who feel that they have been victims of discrimination. If you would like some advice on this, please contact THT Direct helpline on 0808 802 1221 or register for a chat through our Online Advice service. You can also contact us by email.
You can also contact the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) or the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).
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This article was last reviewed on
by C. Berry
Date due for the next review: 31/3/2015
Content Author: J. Font
Current Owner: D. Anyanwu
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