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How far does associative discrimination extend beyond direct discrimination and harassment?

By Russell Holland and Russell Bailey

This article considers the impact of the recent decision of the Court of Appeal in Hainsworth v Ministry of Defence [2014] EWCA Civ 763 and highlights an employment tribunal decision where it has been held that associative discrimination extends to claims of victimisation.

In Coleman v Attridge Law [2008] IRLR 722, following a reference from the London South Employment Tribunal, the Court of Justice of the European Union held that an employee, who was not himself disabled but was the principal carer for his disabled child, could bring a claim for direct discrimination or for harassment if the reason for the discriminatory treatment or the harassment was the disability of the child.

The Equality Act 2010 now expressly provides for associative discrimination as a cause of action for direct discrimination and harassment in relation to protected characteristics. This article considers the extent to which associative discrimination might extend beyond direct discrimination and harassment…

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