The following Pensions guidance note Produced in partnership with Elizabeth Ovey of Radcliffe Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
Under the Equality Act 2010 ('the Equality Act'), there is prima facie indirect discrimination if A applies a provision, criterion or practice (sometimes called a 'PCP') to persons generally but that PCP:
puts or would put persons who have a relevant protected characteristic at a particular disadvantage when compared with other persons, and
puts or would put B at that disadvantage
This is something referred to as the ‘group disadvantage’ test.
However, there will be no indirect discrimination in fact if A can show that the PCP is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. This defence to a complaint of indirect discrimination is known as 'objective justification'.
The relevant protected characteristics under the Equality Act are:
marriage and civil partnership
religion or belief
(Pregnancy and maternity is a protected characteristic for the purposes of the Equality Act generally, but not for the purposes of s 19).
Direct, as opposed to indirect, discrimination occurs if, because of a protected characteristic, A treats B less favourably than he treats or would treat another person.
In general, objective justification cannot be a defence to a complaint of direct discrimination under the Equality Act. Exceptionally, it may be a defence to a complaint on the ground of age.
It may also be a
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