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"Undesirable guest list" - systematic discrimination

View profile for Rebecca Billinge
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According to a recent news article, it was reported following an investigation commissioned by the EHRC that a well known holiday company employed a guest list to exclude people of a particular heritage, (in this case, gypsies and travellers) to prevent them from accessing their services.

The investigation was commissioned by the EHRC further to a whistle-blowing report made by an employee of an associated caravan park that alleged that the company operated a discriminatory booking policy that excluded gypsy and traveller guests. It is understood that the company also had a policy to monitor the commercial vehicles which accessed their sites, as a way to block bookings from those from such heritage.

As a result of the EHRC’s investigations, it is reported that the caravan park have agreed to review their ‘undesirable guest list’ policy to ensure appropriate action is taken, to review it’s intelligence system to ensure that their commercial vehicle policy is not discriminatory in any way, to provide training on equality law for staff in HR and in senior positions of management, to provide training on equality and diversity for all customer facing staff on an annual basis and to appoint equality, diversity and inclusion champions across the organisation. It has been reported that the agreement will be in place from 22 February 2021 and will be monitored by the EHRC to ensure that it is complied with.

The outcome of the EHRC’s investigation is extremely encouraging and it is hoped that such action will give rise to other organisations following suit, by way of policy reviews and implementation of measures to avoid discriminatory practices.

You will have potentially been discriminated against if you have suffered unfavourable treatment and have been put to a detriment, as a result of a protected characteristic, such as a disability. There are a number of protected characteristics, as defined by the Equality Act 2010 and these include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Gender reassignment
  • Religious beliefs
  • Disability

If you are of gypsy and/or traveller heritage, then you are protected under the Equality Act.

In this case, it appears that those who identified as gypsy/traveller heritage, may have been indirectly discriminated against by the caravan park, on the grounds of their race and/or religious belief.

Indirect discrimination is where a policy, criterion, or practice is applied to a group of people but ultimately, puts certain individuals at a disadvantage, as a result of a protected characteristic. The operation of an ‘undesirable guest list’ would most likely be considered by a court as being a policy, criteria or practice which could have an indirect effect upon anyone who identified as having gypsy/traveller heritage. The detriment which one would be subjected to, may be exclusion from the premises, due to their race and/or religious belief.  

If you feel you have been discriminated against as a result of a protected characteristic, you may be able to bring a claim for discrimination under the terms of the Equality Act 2010, however there are strict time limits within which courts will accept such claims. Please contact our specialist discrimination solicitors for further advice on 0161 696 6170.

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