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Members of the Traveller, Roma and Gypsy communities and the Equality Act 2010: service provider's responsibilities

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Any organisation carrying out a public function and/or providing a service needs to be aware of and comply with their obligations under the terms of the Equality Act 2010 to avoid claims of unlawful discrimination. This includes a responsibility not to discriminate against a service user based upon their Race.

Romany Gypsies, Scottish Gypsy/Travellers and Irish Travellers have all been declared as protected under the Equality Act 2010.

It is understood that a recent case in which a member of the Irish Traveller community was assisted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission against a public house in Cardiff has settled, after the pub refused to permit a booking for the individual to hold a Christening for their daughter at the venue, due to them ‘being from the Irish Traveller community’.

The law states that businesses have a duty to do everything that they reasonably can to prevent their service users from being subjected to race discrimination. If an employee discriminates against a service user, you as a business can be found to be vicariously liable for their actions, if it was in the course of their employment. For example, enforcing a policy upon a group of individuals, which prohibits them from using or entering the premises, due to their race. 

If a service user believes that they have been treated unfavourably by any employee of a business due to their race, or they believe that they have been subjected to unwanted conduct in relation to their race, and this has the effect of violating their dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment, then that service user may have a claim of race discrimination against your business.

What to do if you receive a complaint of discrimination from a service user?

If an individual believes that they have been treated unfavourably and unlawfully discriminated against by your business/organisation or an employee who works for your business or organisation, they may take action against you. As an organisation/business you must act quickly if you receive a complaint of discrimination, or letter before action. Please read the below for further details on dealing with complaints of discrimination as a service provider.

It is advisable that businesses provide training to their employees on their obligations under the Equality Act 2010, especially those in relation to treating all service users equally, regardless of an affiliation to the Traveller, Roma and Gypsy communities.

If your business is accused of discrimination, our team can help you. For a no obligation discussion with our specialist discrimination defence solicitors, call us on 0161 696 6170.

By Ambre Williams, employment and discrimination advisor