Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Equality & Diversity News: May 2012

In this issue:

  • Barmaid wins £10,000 in compensation for sexual harassment  
  • The number of men doing part-time work because they cannot find a full-time job has more than doubled.
  • Stonewall guide: ‘Sexual Orientation. The Equality Act Made Simple’  
  • Race to the Top: the Experiences of Black Students in Higher Education  
  • Ministerial announcements on Equalities Red Tape Challenge and reform of the EHRC.
  • Videos on Diversity from a European Perspective. 
  • GPs admit poorer healthcare for people with learning disabilities.
  • Stop and search 'disproportionately' used by Met police: Legal Challenge at High Court
  • Comparison websites 'break the law' over disabled users
  • Should we outlaw genetic discrimination?

Barmaid wins £10,000 in compensation for sexual harassment/discrimination

Kathryn Broughton, 21, was given the nickname 'little t*ts' by her boss Andrew Stephens and asked if she was wearing a push-up bra. When the shy university graduate failed to reply, the 33-year-old married man told her: “Well you really should” Miss Broughton told an employment tribunal. “He then said we will get more customers and you will get more tips.”

The part-time barmaid won her claim for sex discrimination after she quit the real ale pub in disgust following a string of rude remarks. She claimed on-going sexual harassment over a six-month period by Mr Stephens, who is a shareholder in the pub company which runs the Rutland Arms in Sheffield city centre.

Miss Broughton said her boss first called her “little t*ts” to “curry favour” with a member of staff with whom he was engaging in banter at the bar and repeated it on several occasions in front of other bar and kitchen staff.

It culminated in her resigning following an incident on June 1, 2010 after Mr Stephens drank at least five pints one evening and was chatting to customers and then kitchen staff at the bar. He directed the 'push-up bra' comment towards her at the end of the evening and Miss Broughton said: “I felt upset and degraded and very self-conscious.” She became aware of her breasts being stared at, she said. “I was a bit scared. I didn’t want to talk about it to anyone,” she added. She was so frightened she called her boyfriend to take her home and she immediately quit and fired off a letter of complaint saying she found the remarks inappropriate. She wrote: “I found them intimidating and insulting. They were unwarranted and amounted to harassment.” Her barrister Simon Pallo told the Sheffield hearing: “She was a young lady in a relatively male-dominated workplace and she’s quite a retiring, shy girl.”

Mr Stephens denied making any sexual comments to the barmaid.

Miss Broughton was awarded £10,000 for injury to feelings and £529.34 in wages plus interest against Mr Stephens and the Sheffield-based pub company Reet Ale Pubs.

See: http://tinyurl.com/6vrvpux

The number of men doing part-time work because they cannot find a full-time job has more than doubled

The number of men doing part-time work because they cannot find a full-time job has more than doubled in the last four years, according to a new study by the Trades Union Congress. The report also revealed that the number of women working in involuntary part-time jobs has more than doubled in London.

The TUC said almost 600,000 men were working part-time in December while looking for full-time positions, compared to 293,000 at the end of 2007 and latest figures show 1.4 million workers and self-employed people work part-time because they cannot find full-time employment, the highest figure since records began in 1992.

People living in the east of England have been hit by the biggest increase in under-employment over the past four years, with the number of men ''trapped'' in part-time jobs more than trebling to almost 60,000, said the TUC.

Its analysis of official figures showed that the North East, Northern Ireland and London also experienced sharp rises in involuntary part-time work.

The report also revealed that the number of women working in involuntary part-time jobs has more than doubled in London and Northern Ireland over the past four years.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: ''Last month's fall in unemployment was a welcome surprise. No-one should be under any illusion however that the jobs crisis is over. Virtually all employment growth is coming from part-time and temporary jobs but most of the people taking them want and need permanent, full-time work”.

Stonewall guide: ‘Sexual Orientation. The Equality Act Made Simple’

Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive of Stonewall, in introducing this new guide, says:
The Equality Act 2010 consolidates many of the protections, against discrimination in employment and the provision of goods and services, that have been hard-won by Stonewall over the last decade. However, the Act’s ‘public duty’ also heralds a further step change in Britain’s legislative landscape.

The duty to promote equal treatment in the delivery of public services to gay people may be new but complying with it need not be complicated or costly. Stonewall’s work with hundreds of organisations has already demonstrated that delivering tailored services that people actually need makes sound economic sense.

Some public bodies will be thinking for the first time about how to meet the needs of the 3.7m lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Britain who help fund them. That’s why Stonewall has produced this plain-English guide to the Act. It outlines some off-the-peg actions organisations can carry out.”
To download a copy of the guide go to: http://tinyurl.com/7q6ana4

Race to the Top: the Experiences of Black Students in Higher Education

Race to the Top: the Experiences of Black Students in Higher Education is the first in a series of reports from the Bow Group looking at the experiences of particular groups from non-traditional backgrounds within Higher Education and the challenges faced by that group in gaining employment. This first report focuses on the experiences of Black students from African & Caribbean backgrounds and is the result of a nationwide consultation, which took place over a two year period and engaged over 2500 students.

Research conducted by the Institute for Public Policy Research in 2010 found that ethnic minorities have been disproportionately affected by the recent rise in unemployment. This pattern can also be observed within the graduate market. Indeed, Black graduates are three times more likely to be unemployed than white graduates within six months of graduation and, should they find employment, Black graduates are expected to earn up to 9% less for the same work within five years.

This report, produced to investigate further the causes of these disturbing statistics and to understand the perceptions of Black undergraduates finds:
  • 47 per cent. of Black undergraduates believe the Government discriminates in its graduate recruitment. 
  • Black students felt they would face discrimination when attempting to pursue a career in the legal services, media, fashion and financial services industries. 
  • 60% of Black Students do not expect to be in work within 6 months of graduating. 
  • 68% of Black students expect to be earning less than £25,000 in their first graduate role. 
  • Black students generally believe there is not currently enough mentoring or support given to them to assist them in their choice of where to go to university. 
  • Black students generally believe that their parents do not currently receive sufficient guidance from careers counsellors in state schools to understand the choices available to their children. 
  • There is a sizeable discrepancy between the expectations of Black students and the outcomes they face following graduation
For a copy of the full report go to: http://tinyurl.com/dxk35a3

Ministerial announcements on Equalities Red Tape Challenge and reform of the EHRC

The Home Office has just announced the outcome of the Equalities Red Tape Challenge and the Government response to the consultation on the reform of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The government proposes the abolition of:
  • The rules on third-party harassment in section 40(2)-(4) of the Equality Act 2010 (See: http://tinyurl.com/6olvthm
  • The tribunals' wider power to make recommendations in discrimination cases under section 124(3)(b), and 
  • The long-established questionnaire procedure for obtaining information under section 138 (See both at: http://tinyurl.com/cpnme2k
The consultations on the proposals close on 7 August 2012.

The Government have also given their response to previous consultation on the future of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, see: http://tinyurl.com/7sl54lx

The government will also:
  • proceed with the repeal of the socio-economic duty in the Equality Act 2010; 
  • delay commencement of the dual discrimination provisions in the Equality Act 2010; 
  • delay commencement of reasonable adjustments to common parts provisions. 
All these proposals are essentially being made to “reduce the burdens on businesses” at the expense of justice for victims of discrimination and inequality. 

Videos on Diversity from a European Perspective

The European Commission has over recent years produced a series of interesting and useful information videos promoting diversity within the European Union. All of them are available from the EC web-site at: http://tinyurl.com/7pelwqp or on YouTube as follows:

GPs admit poorer healthcare for people with learning disabilities

The majority of doctors believe that people afflicted with learning disabilities do not receive the same level of healthcare as the rest of the population. A poll by General Medical Council found that 64 per cent of GPs believe learning disability patients have a poor standard of care. The figure for hospital doctors is slightly less at 54 per cent but still indicates and overwhelming consensus that the patients are not treated correctly.

Over one in three (35 per cent) of GPs had personally witnessed a person suffering from a learning disability receiving poor care from staff or facing discrimination. The evidence goes to show that many doctors and medical professionals have not been appropriately trained or lack the resources to effectively care for people with learning disabilities.

Three-quarters of doctors asserted that an online advice service that has instructions on how to treat learning disability patients would be a useful resource. "We know that too often patients who have a learning disability receive poorer treatment and that sometimes health professionals fail to see past the patient’s disability to identify underlying physical problems," said GMC chief executive Niall Dickson. "It’s about building doctors’ confidence when dealing with patients who have a learning disability and enabling them to make some small changes which can have a big impact on the standard of care they provide."

Learning disability charity Mencap's chief executive Mark Goldring has commented on the report, asserting that something must be done to improve care. “The GMC's survey confirms that many doctors still do not understand how to treat people with a learning disability," he said. "It is not right that they continue to receive a poorer standard of healthcare than the rest of the population despite having greater health needs.”

Mencap has highlighted the poor care of people with learning disabilities in the past. Reports from the organisation have made public the deaths of 74 people in the care of the NHS over the last decade. These lives are being put at risk by the indifference of staff that fail to adhere to the Equality Act.

See: http://tinyurl.com/82o6pl4 

Stop and search 'disproportionately' used by Met police: Legal Challenge at High Court

Police are using stop and search powers disproportionately against black people without any adequate explanation, the High Court has been told.

Ann Juliette Roberts, 38, of Upper Edmonton, north London, is seeking a judicial review on the way the Metropolitan Police uses the powers.

Mrs Roberts, of African Caribbean heritage, said the powers were "incompatible" with human rights.

Scotland Yard said stop and search was a "valuable policing power". The court was told that there was "no adequate explanations" as to why black people, particularly in London, were searched under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which allows searches "without reasonable grounds for suspicion".

Mr Southey told Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Eady the powers to search without reasonable suspicion were incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights - in particular Articles 5 and 8, which protect the right to liberty and respect for privacy. He also argued that the "disproportionate" use of searches against black Londoners breached Article 14, which protects against discrimination.

Figures released from the Ministry of Justice show that for 2009-2010, 43,219 black people were searched by Met officers under section 60, compared with 27,217 white people.

Jeremy Johnson QC, appearing for the Metropolitan Police, said the search process did not infringe on her human rights as the process lasted a few minutes and did not amount to an interference of her right to respect for her private life. He said the use of statistics to show black people were being disproportionately searched was "misplaced" as the arrest rate suggested the power was being used consistently in respect of different ethnic groups.

In written submissions to the court, Met lawyers have said stop and search provides "a lawful, fair and important stop and search power" directed at discovering knives and other offensive weapons.

The hearing continues. See: http://tinyurl.com/btmdx9z 

Comparison websites 'break the law' over disabled users

They may spend millions of pounds on advertising campaigns featuring mustachioed opera singers and cheeky meerkats, but some of the nation’s most popular comparison websites have been accused of breaking the law by denying access to more than 12m consumers with disabilities. Sites such as GoCompare.com and Comparethemarket.com are ignoring basic web accessibility guidelines, campaigners say.

See: http://tinyurl.com/7wpcplc 

Should we outlaw genetic discrimination?

An interesting article by Rosalind English that discusses an extension of equality law to cover “genetic” discrimination. It is written in the light of the Association of British Insurers recent extension of their moratorium on the use of genetic test results for insurance purposes which, she suggests, may be insufficient protection from discrimination in the future.

The article opens on the reflections by the late US law Professor Paul Miller that Beethoven, Stephen Hawking and Elton John are all examples of individuals whom, if they had been tested for serious genetic conditions at the start of their careers, may well have been denied employment in the fields in which they later came to excel.

See: http://tinyurl.com/85hjwjz 

Any Questions/Comments

If you have questions or issues that you would like me to address in future newsletters, or you have comments and suggestions about this newsletter, please let me know by posting comments (see below).


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