Scotland Equality Law Bulletin - March 2017


Disability Discrimination Case Study

A young woman suffered disability discrimination when she was turned away from a beauty clinic because she was accompanied by her guide dog. Frank Jarvis, solicitor at Govan Law Centre, provides this case study of a disability discrimination claim in the Sheriff Court which was recently successful. Read here about this example of an individual exercising rights under the Equality Act in practice.


Taxi accessibility regulations

The UK government has announced that from 6 April 2017 taxi and private hire vehicle drivers who have accessible vehicles in England, Scotland and Wales will be obliged by law to:

  • transport wheelchair users in their wheelchair
  • provide passengers in wheelchairs with appropriate assistance
  • charge wheelchair users the same as non-wheelchair users

Drivers who are unable to provide assistance for medical reasons will be able to apply to their licensing authority for an exemption from the new requirements.

These new requirements will complement the provisions relating to the carrying of assistance dogs which are already in force. Read the full press release.

Recent Commission funded cases

Pimlico Plumbers Ltd and another v Smith

A ruling from the Court of Appeal will help protect the rights of workers employed in the ‘gig economy’. The Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of Gary Smith, employed by Pimlico Plumbers Ltd as an 'independent contractor', who claimed disability pay from the company after a heart attack ruled him out of work.  An Employment Tribunal agreed with his claim and that he should be protected by equality law. The Equality and Human Rights Commission funded Mr Smith’s case. The Court of Appeal’s judgement is available here.

FirstGroup plc v Paulley

Bus companies must end ‘first come, first served’ policies, and do more to give priority to wheelchair users after a recent landmark Supreme Court ruling. The case of FirstGroup plc v Paulley, backed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, will mean wheelchair users should be given priority for wheelchair spaces on buses.

Bus companies should have clear policies in place and give training to drivers to remove the barriers wheelchair users face when using buses. The case centred on whether a ‘first come, first served’ policy was discriminatory against wheelchair users, or if bus companies could do more to ensure wheelchair spaces on buses are vacated when a wheelchair user enters the bus. Further details are available. FirstGroup plc v Paulley judgment.


Making Change Happen - Using the courts to make rights a reality

Thursday 1st June, 10am – 4pm, Edinburgh City Chambers

The Commission is running an event in partnership with the Human Rights Consortium Scotland that hopes to inspire your organisation to use the law and the courts to bring about social change.   

This event will include:

  • Helpful information and advice from legal experts on possible legal tools and their pros and cons;
  • Learning directly from those with hands-on experience of using the courts to achieve change – the opportunities and challenges it creates, and their advice to others;
  • How to develop a test-case litigation strategy for your organisation;

The day will also be an excellent opportunity for lawyers and those in civil society organisations to network. Our event is free but places are limited. More information and booking instructions can be found here.

Housing for disabled people: have your say

Last December, the Commission launched a formal inquiry on housing for disabled people. It will look at whether the availability of accessible and adaptable housing, and the support services around it, are fulfilling disabled people’s rights to live independently. Our inquiry covers England, Scotland and Wales.

We want to hear the views and experiences of disabled people and organisations on housing and tenancy support provision. This includes the effect it has on disabled people’s choice and control over their housing situation and their right to independent living.

Read about the inquiry

Publications and Guidance

Sexist dress codes at work: what you can do

The Commission has published useful guidance with scenarios that detail what employers and employees can do to avoid sexist dress codes at work. Read the Guidance examples here.

Disability Rights

The Commission has made a submission to inform the list of issues for the UK under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The Commission has done this as part of its membership of the UK Independent Mechanism.

The CRPD sets out what human rights mean for disabled people. The UK is committed to promoting and protecting full equality for disabled people under the law. 

The report identifies the challenges affecting disabled people across the UK as well as in Scotland and which we recommend the CRPD Committee considers in its preparation of the List of Issues for the UK.  We think that the UK needs to step up efforts to meet its obligations for disability rights.

The Scottish submission, produced jointly by the EHRC and the Scottish Human Rights Commission provides additional up-to-date information and suggested questions about disability rights in Scotland.

Read the UK main submission.

Read the Scottish submission.

Last updated: 22 May 2017