Companies protected from discrimination
In the case of EAD Solicitors LLP v Abrams the EAT considered that a company could proeed with a claim for discrimination as there was nothing in the Equality Act 2010 which prevented a company from bringing a discrimination claim.
Mr Abrams was a member/partner of EAD Solicitors LLP and was due to retire at the age of 62. On approaching his retirement Mr Abrams set up a limited company for tax reasons of which he was the director and principal shareholder. He used the company to take his place as a member of EAD Solicitors LLP. The company Mr Abrams set up took the profit share which he would have been entitled to and supplied fee-earner services to EAD. He was therefore not considered to be an employee or a worker of EAD.
As Mr Abrams approached 62 he notified EAD that the company he set up would not be stepping down as a member. As a result EAD terminated the company’s membership of EAD. The company bought a tribunal claim against EAD and the Tribunal determined at a preliminary hearing that a company could be a claimant in a discrimination claim, however it could only be the case where the company reflected the characteristics of one individual or a group of individuals. EAD appealed the decision.
The EAT rejected EAD’s appeal on the basis that the Equality Act 2010 did not deal with individuals on the basis of their own protected characteristics but rather identifies discrimination as being detrimental treatment caused by a protected characteristic or related to it. Such detriment can be directed at any person whether natural or legal and the wording of the Act did not prevent a company from bringing such a claim. Mr Abrams claim was allowed to proceed.
This is a very important development in discrimination law. Employers and busineses generally will therefore need to carefully consider any decisions taken by them in respect of companies they deal with in order to ensure that any decision taken is not based on any discriminatory treatment.
Reference: EAD Solicitors LLP & Others v Abrams UKEAT/0054/15
The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.
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