The government has proposed a new law to protect people who experience discrimination because of a combination of two characteristics, such as black women.
The new ‘dual discrimination’ clause, which the government wants to insert into the Equality Bill, would allow people to make a claim if they were directly discriminated against because of a combination of two relevant protected characteristics.
This would mean, for example, that a black woman who is discriminated against because her employer has particular stereotyped attitudes towards black women – as opposed to black men or white women – could bring a single claim for combined race and sex discrimination.
Currently, people may only bring separate discrimination claims relating to one protected characteristic; such as their age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.
Vera Baird, solicitor general and Equality Bill lead minister, said: “People’s identities are multi-faceted and complex, and we are delighted to bring forward an amendment to the Equality Bill which would reflect this. This clause would provide protection for people who at present would have to guess on what basis they have been discriminated against, wholly outside their dignity.
“Business will benefit if all the issues in one case can be dealt with together, and there will be better access to justice for all. Protection against “dual discrimination” would be a progressive step forward and confirm our place as a world leader in the fight against discrimination and disadvantage.”
The Equality Bill is still going through committee stage in the House of Commons. Other amendments recently tabled include reducing the number of people employed by an organisation to be required to carry out gender pay gap audits from 250 to 100.Another amendment included written job applications being nameless so that employers could not discriminate against candidates at the selection stage. This proposal has since been withdrawn from the Bill, but Liberal Democrat equality spokeswoman Lynne Featherstone intends to bring it back.