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Equality North East

Equality Act attempts to clear up disability discrimination laws

The new Equality Act provisions seek to balance competing interests concerning disability in a legal minefield. Anne Pritam, a specialist in employment and partnership law, looks at why the Act came about.

Discrimination laws are like buses; you wait for ages then three come along at once. In the 1970s and 1980s, employers only had to be concerned with ensuring racial and sexual equality. But a rash of European legislation compelled the UK Parliament to enact legislation covering disability, sexual orientation, religion/belief and age.

To bring all the strands together, the last Government embarked on the magnum opus that is the Equality Act 2010, which was rushed through the statute books in the "wash-up" at the end of the parliamentary term. The opportunity was taken to tidy up certain areas of law, including disability discrimination, but many questions around the new law remain.

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May 4, 2011

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