Avoiding discrimination and achieving diversity
All personnel must be aware of the firm’s policy in relation to discrimination, equality and diversity. The policy deals with all professional dealings by personnel with clients, other solicitors, barristers and third parties and so covers:-
- accepting instructions from clients
- using experts and counsel
- the provision of services to clients
- dealings with those representing others
- interaction with everyone involved in or incidental to the provision of services by the firm
The policy also extends to the recruitment, training and promotion of people within the practice. In connection with both aspects, it is the case that all personnel must comply not only with the professional requirements of the Solicitors Regulation Authority but also with the law of the land.
Forms of discrimination
The firm’s policy covers discrimination on the grounds of:-
- race or racial group (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins)
- sex (including marital status, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity and paternity)
- sexual orientation (including civil partnership status)
- religion or belief
The following are the kinds of discrimination which are against the firm’s policy:-
1. Direct discrimination
where a person is treated less favourably on the grounds of race, racial group, colour, ethnic or national origin, sex, pregnancy, marital status, disability or sexual orientation or religion or belief.
2. Indirect Discrimination
where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice would put a substantial higher proportion of the members of one sex or persons having a racial or ethnic origin or a particular religion or belief or a particular disability or a particular sexual orientation at a particular disadvantage compared with other persons, unless that provision criterion or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary.
where someone is treated less favourably than others because he or she has taken action against the firm under one of the relevant Acts.
when unwanted conduct relating to any of the grounds referred to above takes place with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of the person and of creating an intimidating hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Harassment may involve physical acts or verbal and non-verbal communications and gestures, this will include physical, verbal and non-verbal acts.
In addition to the firm’s obligations not to discriminate against, harass or victimise those with a disability the firm is also subject to a duty to make reasonable adjustments to prevent those employees and clients who are disabled from being at a disadvantage in comparison with those who are not disabled.
The Firm’s Commitment
This firm is committed to eliminating discrimination and promoting equality and diversity in its own policy, practices and procedures and in those areas in which it has influence.
This applies to the firm’s professional dealings with staff and partners, other solicitors, barristers, clients and third parties.
The firm intends to treat everyone equally and with the same attention, courtesy and respect regardless of the disability, gender, marital status, race, racial group, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality religion or belief or sexual orientation.
Regulation and Legislation
In developing and implementing its anti-discrimination policy, the firm is committed to complying to the Solicitors Anti-Discrimination Rule 2004 and with all current and any future anti-discrimination legislation and associated codes of practice including, but not limited to:
- the Equal Pay Act 1970
- the Sex Discrimination Act 1975
- the Race Relations Act 1976
- the Disability Discrimination Act 1975
- the Employment Rights Act 1996
- the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
- the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
and any relevant amendments and re-enactments of such legislation.
(i) The Commission for Racial Equality Code of Practice for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Promotion of Equality of Opportunity in Employment (1983)
(ii) The Equal Opportunity Commission Code of Practice on Sex Discrimination: Equal Opportunities, Policies, Procedures and Practices in Employment (1985)
(iii) The Equal Opportunities Code of Practice on Equal Pay 2003
(iv)The Disability Act 1995 Codes of Practice in Relation to Rights of Access to facilities, services and premises of employment
(v) The European Community Code of Practice on the Protection of the Dignity of men and women at work
and any relevant amendments to such codes or further codes of practice