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Potential intersectional discrimination cases

17 May 2009
Equality, diversity and discrimination evidence cover

Executive Summary

Potential intersectional discrimination cases [PDF 240 kb]

In April 2009, the Government Equalities Office (GEO) commissioned Citizens Advice to conduct research to identify the potential for intersectional multiple discrimination cases. The research aimed to:

  • gain a greater understanding of the potential for intersectional multiple discrimination cases, and further background on the nature of these claims;
  • examine what has been the experience of those individuals who feel they have been subject to intersectional discrimination, both in relation to the protected characteristics included in the combined discrimination they have experienced and their experience in seeking remedy; and
  • create a wider example base of intersectional multiple discrimination.

In summary the research found:

  • 7.7% of discrimination cases were estimated to involve more than one protected characteristic, with 4% involving intersectional discrimination, the majority of cases are in the field of employment.
  • Multiple discrimination takes forms that are specific to the individuals’ particular combination of characteristics, for example Black men being subjected to stereotypes and prejudices relating to sexual prowess and aggression, resulting in discrimination against them.
  • Clients with discrimination issues were most likely to have experienced unfair or constructive dismissal, or unfair treatment in grievance and complaints processes. Specific combinations of characteristics also faced specific forms of unfair treatment, for example older disabled workers singled out for redundancy.
  • Advisors report significant inadequacies exist with the current provision that requires multiple discrimination cases to be dealt with on one or more individual ground.  In particular it can be impossible to separate particular combinations of prejudice and stereotypes and subsequent less favourable treatment into specific separate legal cases. It can therefore be impossible to prove discrimination has taken place.
  • In addition, the requirement to use comparators under the separate grounds enables the employer to deny less favourable treatment, no matter how they have actually treated their employee.

Potential intersectional discrimination cases [PDF 240 kb]