Article

Types of cases and issues we are interested in hearing about

Published: 23 August 2022

Last updated: 23 August 2022

What countries does this apply to?

  • England
  • Scotland
  • Wales

 

Legal representatives and organisations should review all the information in this Litigation and enforcement policy, and the examples below, before asking us to use our legal powers. 

Requests can be emailed to regulatory[email protected] (for England and Wales) or [email protected] (for Scotland).

They can call the Legal Helpline (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm):

England: 0161 829 8190

Wales: 029 2044 7790

We cannot directly advise individuals who are seeking our help on an issue. Instead, individuals should contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

Here are some examples of the types of cases or issues we are interested in hearing about. 

These examples indicate what we might be able to get involved in.

We may adapt this list to significant social, economic and political events or changes to the legal landscape.

If you are working on a legal case or issue related to these examples, we’d be interested to hear about it. We’d also like to hear about significant emerging or new challenges to equality and human rights in England, Scotland and Wales.

The examples below match the priorities set out in our strategic plan for 2022 to 2025 and business plan for 2022 to 2023.

Equality in a changing workplace

Tackling discrimination, harassment, victimisation and breaches of human rights in the workplace

We are interested in cases and issues involving:

  • serious sexual harassment, including where employers might have failed to protect a worker, and particularly involving insecure workers and those with other protected characteristics (for example, ethnic minority, disabled or LGBT workers)
  • serious harassment related to sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment and religion or belief, including where employers might have failed to protect a worker
  • balancing competing rights (such as sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment and religion or belief) at work.

Acting on gaps in employment rates and pay for different protected characteristic groups

We are interested in cases and issues involving:

  • discrimination as a result of the menopause, exploring issues around the definition of disability, reasonable adjustments and sex or age discrimination
  • restriction or limiting of family-friendly rights for men and women (including carers), such as the right to flexible working
  • discrimination against women who are pregnant or on maternity leave, or for other family-related reasons, in selection of people for recruitment or redundancy
  • sex, race, age and disability discrimination in training, career progression, promotion and pay.

Advising on measures to rebuild economies after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to improve equality of opportunity for disadvantaged groups

We are interested in cases and issues involving:

  • work-based discrimination in the post-pandemic economy, in particular for low-paid workers, including regression of flexible working and reasonable adjustments.
  • discrimination relating to COVID-19, including the rights of workers with ongoing symptoms, the definition of disability and access to reasonable adjustments.
  • tackling gaps in protection from discrimination for insecure or atypical or
    gig-economy workers, to secure and strengthen their rights.

Equality for children and young people

Working with regulators and governments to tackle any disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on lost learning

Types of cases and issues we are interested in hearing about include:

  • discriminatory policies and practices, or those which breach human rights, including in relation to:
    • digital exclusion
    • compliance with COVID-19 measures
    • catch-up and provision for additional learning
    • reintegration after COVID-19
    • disadvantages in teaching provision.

Taking legal action to address breaches of children’s rights in institutional settings

Types of cases / issues we are interested in hearing about include:

  • discrimination and breaches of human rights in relation to children placed in:
    • youth justice settings
    • children’s homes
    • detention centres
    • mental health
    • other institutional settings including hospitals and foster placements.
  • human rights and equality breaches arising from orders under the Inherent Jurisdiction, where secure accommodation placements are unavailable / unsuitable for children under the Children Act
  • matters arising from use of restraint in schools
  • matters arising from access to, and equal treatment in, mental health services for those in transition from child to adult health care.

Tackling discrimination in exclusions, behaviour policies and failures to make reasonable adjustments to improve educational outcomes for people with protected characteristic

Types of cases / issues we are interested in hearing about include:

  • discriminatory policies and practices, and breaches of human rights, including in relation to:
    • off-rolling
    • admissions
    • the provision of reasonable adjustments
    • exclusions and removals
    • quality and content of educational provision
    • restraint and seclusion
    • clothing and behaviour policies in schools
    • retention of data (such as behaviour records)
  • discrimination and breaches of human rights resulting from the presence of police or third parties in schools
  • failures by schools to deal appropriately with serious incidents or patterns of harassment in relation to protected characteristics.

Tackling barriers to equal training and work opportunities for young people

Types of cases and issues we are interested in hearing about include discriminatory policies and practices and breaches of human rights, including in relation to the awarding of and access to apprenticeships and training opportunities.

Upholding rights and equality in health and social care

Promoting rights regarding the treatment of people in health and social care institutions

Types of cases and issues we are interested in hearing about include:

  • detention of people in mental health hospitals and units for long periods of time when they could be living in the community
  • restraint (including by medication), and long-term segregation or seclusion of patients in mental health settings
  • discrimination or breaches of human rights in relation to people in health and social care settings.

Promoting the rights of people using adult social care services to support independent living

Types of cases and issues we are interested in hearing about include:

  • failure to make reasonable adjustments for people who are accessing or seeking to access social care, including when complaining about a service
  • barriers to independent living, such as people being placed in care homes who could reasonably receive care in the community
  • restrictions on people in care homes, including (but not limited to) visiting
  • matters that explore how the Human Rights Act 1998 applies in care homes and for those who self-fund their own care
  • discrimination and breaches of human rights in access to social care or the provision of social care that is needed for independent living.

Tackling inequalities in access to health services

Types of cases and issues we are interested in hearing about include:

  • matters about disproportionate deaths in maternity services
  • discrimination or breaches of human rights faced by trans people accessing healthcare
  • discrimination or breaches of human rights in accessing appropriate health services which are not already captured above; for example, barriers faced by patients with sight or hearing impairments.

Addressing the equality and human rights impact of digital services and artificial intelligence (AI)

Tackling online harms, including bullying, discrimination and abuse, experienced by people with protected characteristics, while safeguarding the right to freedom of expression

Types of cases and issues we are interested in hearing about include:

  • matters where algorithms may have led or contributed to discrimination, harassment or a breach of human rights
  • online harms that potentially constitute a breach of human rights
  • matters that involve an interaction between freedom of expression and protection of other human rights and / or wider equality rights.

Ensuring that digital service providers maximise inclusion and tackle discrimination resulting from digital exclusion so essential services are available to all

Types of cases / issues we are interested in hearing about include potential discrimination and breaches of human rights resulting from digital exclusion related to essential services, including in the areas of:

  • welfare benefits
  • health and social care
  • justice
  • immigration
  • education.

Taking legal action so that the use of AI in recruitment and other employment practices does not bias decision-making or breach human rights

Types of cases and issues we are interested in hearing about include matters involving:

  •  the use of AI in recruitment and other employment practices that raise issues of discriminatory decision-making or human rights, such as the use of facial recognition software or CV and applicant screening
  • public and private organisations (for example, where a public organisation uses software from a private-sector organisation), including where they raise issues of human rights, discrimination and PSED compliance.

Influencing regulatory frameworks to ensure equality and human rights are embedded in the development and application of AI and digital technology

Types of cases / issues we are interested in hearing about include:

  • matters that highlight, clarify or enforce (including through litigation) the framework for equality and human rights in the development and application of AI and digital technology; including, for example, the different international framework
  • matters that involve public- and private-sector organisations; for example, where a public organisation uses software from a private-sector organisation
  • the development and application of AI and digital technology, including in the areas of:
    • welfare benefits
    • health and social care
    • justice
    • immigration
    • education.

Fostering good relations and promoting respect between groups

Encouraging schools and educational bodies to promote the value of equality and human rights and respect for others

Types of cases and issues we are interested in hearing about include:

  • discrimination and harassment in educational settings; for example, in relation to segregated teaching of disabled children or by sex
  • matters concerning freedom of expression, including where there is interaction with other human rights and wider equality law
  • matters that raise issues of discrimination and respect for others in this area, such as the issue of police conduct in educational settings
  • matters where issues arise around the balance of rights, such as in relation to sex, gender reassignment and religion or belief.

Working with sporting organisations and specific service providers to promote respect for others and prevent prejudice

The primary focus of this work stream is to exercise influence. However, where it would promote our overall aim to foster good relations, we will consider formal action; for example, in relation to discrimination in sport on the grounds of race, disability or other protected characteristic.

We may also consider using our powers to enforce the PSED, where relevant, in relation to public authorities’ responsibilities in this area.

Playing a leading role in public debates about equality and human rights issues, including by balancing rights

The primary focus of this work stream is to exercise influence. However, where it would promote our overall aim to foster good relations, we may consider formal engagement in cases that raise a balance of rights issue (such as the interaction between the protected characteristics of sex, religion or belief and gender reassignment) and that seek to clarify the Equality Act in these and other areas.

We are also interested in the interaction between freedom of expression and the protection of other human rights and wider equality rights, including in the context of digital services and artificial intelligence.

In cases involving the balance of rights we may seek to intervene in cases where this is likely to promote the fostering of good relations. Generally we will intervene rather than fund cases because this allows us to best fulfil our role as an independent and impartial regulator.

Serious or systemic breaches of the law

We will also challenge serious or systemic breaches of equality or human rights law that are not covered by these priority areas. We will use the criteria set out in this policy to decide whether and what action to take.

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