I find myself writing this blog, often reacting to news stories involving the world of work and employment. Many stories relate to issues in equality not always between workers and employers, such as the recent Northern Ireland case involving cake decoration.
This week the news found an interesting story about discrimination, and not involving a workplace. It also provided a story about ballroom dancing which was not about Ed Balls or his sad demise from the Strictly series.
A claim has been commenced by a wheelchair user banned from performing the jive with his able bodied partner because the wheels on his wheelchair are said to damage the dance floor. It will be an interesting issue of fact as to whether any damage is caused, because that was denied by the Claimant in that case.
The case provides a useful analysis of the law concerning implementation of a policy and indirect discrimination. When an employer or any organisation subject to The Equality Act applies a policy, they must take into account the impact upon, for example a disabled person, and be ready on objective grounds to justify any negative consequences, and to show that any detriment is proportionate between the parties.
The Equality Act brought together all existing discrimination law, providing a single code for the relevant statutory materials. The dance case provides a reminder for all that the law is not limited to work situations, it applies across almost all life and work situations. The outcome of the case will be of interest in considering the application of the statutory test and my guess is that a settlement is likely. With that in mind, parties do need to think about working together to achieve a deal, but as we all know “it takes two to tango”.
Author: Stephen Pinder, Head of Employment Law, EAD Solicitors LLP