How has this act promoted anti-discriminatory practice and how successful has this been?
The equality act (2010) was introduced to provide a modern framework with a clear law to effectively tackle disadvantage and discrimination. The Act is intended to simplify the law by bringing together existing anti-discrimination legislations, such as, the Equal Pay Act (1970), the sex discrimination act (1975), the Race relations act (1976) and the disability discrimination act (1995). These acts protect people from discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, sexual orientation, age, disability and gender. The legislation requires equal treatment in access to employment as well as private and public services, regardless of the characteristics of age, disability, gender, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.
The disability act was introduced in 1995 and made it unlawful to discriminate against people due to their disabilities in relation to employment, the provision of goods and services, education and transport. For example, The Disability Discrimination Act makes it unlawful for a service provider to discriminate against a disabled person by refusing to provide any service which it provides to members of the public. In November 2013, Arizona USA put a ban on aborting children after 20 weeks due to prenatal disability diagnosis. It urges the opportunity to clarify that there is no right to abort children because they have been diagnosed with a disability. Studies show the alarming rate at which children prenatally diagnosed with disability are aborted; and highlights the interest in granting equal treatment to unborn children, whether or not they have a disability.
This shows that the equality act is working because it is ensuring that everybody gets treated equally, with a disability or not, even before they have been born. The sex discrimination act was introduced in 1975 which protected men and women from discrimination on the grounds of sex and marital status. However, in 2006, a male student nurse became a victim of sex discrimination when hospital bosses banned him from performing “intimate procedures” on female patients. Andrew Moyhing, 29, challenged an earlier employment tribunal ruling, which found it was acceptable for the trust to have a different policy for male nurses than for female nurses when intimate procedures were carried out on patients. His training was undermined because he was only allowed to perform some procedures on male patients while female colleagues were taught how to treat both sexes. For example, the former student nurse was told that a female member of staff would have to chaperone him while he carried out an ECG, which records the electrical activity of the heart, because one or both of the patient’s breasts might be exposed. This evidence shows that the equality act is not working because many people are still subject to discrimination based on sex.
Age discrimination refers to the actions taken to deny or limit opportunities to people on the basis of age. A 2006/2007 survey done by the Children’s Rights Alliance for England asked 4,060 children and young people whether they have ever been treated unfairly based on race, age, sex etc. It was found that a total of 43% of British youth surveyed had experienced discrimination based on their age, which showed a significant difference when compared to other categories of discrimination like sex 27%, race 11%, or sexual orientation 6%. It was found that in the NHS, age discrimination is ‘common’. 72% of 200 doctors said that older people were less likely to be considered and referred on for essential treatments. In 2009, a lady was told by doctors that her husband, who suffered from Parkinson’s, old age meant that his quality of life is so poor that it would not be worth fighting for, and that they will withdraw all drugs and let nature take its course. But she believed that everyone’s life is worth fighting for and encouraged the doctors to try their best at keeping her husband alive.
This shows that the equality act is not effective because of how common age discrimination is and the fact that doctors think elderly people’s lives are not worth fighting for, so they decide to give up on them, when they need their help the most. The Race Relations Act 1976 was established to prevent discrimination on the grounds of race. This includes discrimination on the grounds of race; colour; nationality; ethnic and national origin in employment, the provision of goods and services, education and public functions. To bring a case under the Race Relations Act, you have to show you have been discriminated against in one or more ways that are unlawful under the Act. Race discrimination can be direct or indirect. It may also take the form of harassment or victimisation. However, it was said that institutional racism is an issue in NHS, with very few senior figures from ethnic minorities in the organisation. About 1% of NHS chief executives are of black and minority ethnic origin. This shows that racial discrimination is still very common, especially in the work place, because people are still experiencing having restricted opportunities and disempowerment which can lead to a low self-esteem.
The Equal Pay act was introduced in 1970 and it means that people should be paid the same amount of wages regardless of their gender. You have a right not to be paid less than someone of the opposite sex doing the same work or similar work. For an employee to claim under this Act they must prove that the work done by the claimant is the same/similar, as the other employee; that the work done by the claimant is of equal value in terms of effort, skill, decision and similar demands to the other employee or that the work done by the claimant is rated the same as that of the other employee. For example, more than 4,000 female council workers have won the right to be paid the same as their male colleagues in a case which could lead to payouts worth £200m. An employment tribunal found in favour of female workers employed by Birmingham city council in 49 different jobs, who complained of being excluded from bonuses, worth up to 160% of their basic pay, paid to men. The tribunal heard how a man doing the same pay-graded job as a woman could earn four times more than her. This shows that the Equal Pay act is working because it has allowed women who are being under-paid to claim under the act and then get their money back.
In conclusion, I feel that the Equality act has failed in most of the aspects of the act. From what has been discussed above, it shows that the act has not lived up to its intentions in 3 of the 5 stated. Therefore, I think that it hasn’t been as much of a success as originally thought. However, when an aspect has worked, it can be very rewarding to the claimant, as shown for the Equal pay act and the Disability act, and it can help people in a lot of ways. But my overall view on it is that it has not completed what it was introduced to do.