Justification in discrimination claims
Justification in discrimination claims

The following Employment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Justification in discrimination claims
  • A proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim
  • Review of older case law
  • Proportionality
  • Consideration of other means of achieving the legitimate aim
  • Where the aim is to prevent other discrimination
  • Age: both direct and indirect discrimination may be justified
  • Age: issues specific to justifying age discrimination
  • Legitimate aim
  • Proportionality
  • More...

IP COMPLETION DAY: 11pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020 marks the end of the Brexit transition/implementation period entered into following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. At this point in time (referred to in UK law as ‘IP completion day’), key transitional arrangements come to an end and significant changes begin to take effect across the UK’s legal regime. This document contains guidance on subjects impacted by these changes. Before continuing your research, see Practice Note: Brexit and IP completion day—implications for employment lawyers.

This Practice Note examines what is meant by justification, sometimes referred to as the ‘justification defence’, in the context of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 (EqA 2010).

A proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim

Unlike direct discrimination (except direct age discrimination—see below), indirect discrimination can be justified (see Practice Note: Indirect discrimination). The justification defence will be made out if the respondent can show that the provision, criterion or practice (PCP) amounting to indirect discrimination was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Proportionality means balancing the degree of impact against the justification offered. For example, if:

  1. a cement producer imposes a PCP that employees should be able to lift a weight of 50 kg (which PCP might discriminate indirectly against women) and

  2. the objective in imposing that PCP is to ensure that employees can safely lift two bags of cement,

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