- The Firm’s Commitment
Clarke & Son, Basingstoke, is committed to the principles of equality and diversity and to observing legislative requirements relating to discrimination.
The requirements of this policy apply in relation to age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief and sex or sexual orientation.
- Your Responsibility
All employees and partners must comply with the outcomes required by Chapter 2 of the Solicitors Regulation Authority Code of Conduct, which are as follows:
- “you do not discriminate unlawfully, or victimise or harass anyone, in the course of your professional dealings;
- you provide services to clients in a way that respects diversity;
- you make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled clients, employees or managers are not placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to those who are not disabled, and you do not pass on the costs of these adjustments to these disabled clients, employees or managers;
- your approach to recruitment and employment encourages equality of opportunity and respect for diversity;
- Complaints of discrimination are dealt with promptly, fairly, openly, and effectively.
This applies to all our professional dealings with each other, with clients, and with third parties. Any failure to comply with this policy by employees or partners may result in disciplinary action.
- Ensuring Equality
We will not, in our professional dealings with employees, partners, clients and third parties instructed in connection with client matters discriminate unlawfully or victimise or harass anyone. We will take such steps, and make such adjustments, as are reasonable in the circumstances to prevent applicants for jobs, employees, partners or clients who are disabled from being placed at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with those who are not disabled.
- Recruitment and Interviewing
Employees and partners who are involved in recruitment are required to encourage equality of opportunity and respect for diversity. The firm will treat all job applicants fairly and will not discriminate unlawfully against them. The firm will apply fair, objective and consistent criteria when shortlisting, interviewing, testing and recruiting applicants. Employment opportunities will be open to all on equal terms irrespective of the personal, family, business or other connections of any applicant. The firm will make reasonable adjustments to help applicants overcome disadvantages due to disability.
Those responsible for or frequently involved in recruitment and interviewing will be required to undergo such training about equality and diversity as the firm may from time to time prescribe.
- Promoting Equality and Diversity
The Equality and Diversity Partner has operational responsibility for implementing, communicating, monitoring, evaluating and updating this policy. Ultimate responsibility for this policy rests with the partners of the firm.
Employees and partners will be informed of this policy and will be provided with equality and diversity training appropriate to their needs and responsibilities. This policy will be made available to clients, the Solicitors Regulation Authority and relevant third parties upon request.
5.3 Monitoring, Evaluation and Updating
The operation of this policy will be monitored and reviewed annually in a manner proportionate to the size and nature of the firm.
In particular, the firm may, from time to time as it judges appropriate collect information about the diversity characteristics of its workforce and applicants for jobs, training contracts and partnership.
Diversity monitoring will cover the areas of race, gender and disability. It may also cover age, religion and belief and sexual orientation where that can be done consistently with respect for the privacy and dignity of those concerned.
This information will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of this policy. Any changes required will be made and implemented.
- Complaints of Discrimination
The firm will deal with complaints of discrimination promptly, fairly, openly and effectively.
Complaints by employees or partners will be investigated in accordance with the firm’s grievance procedure and the complainant will be informed of the outcome.
Complaints of discrimination from clients or other third parties will be dealt with through the firm’s normal complaints process.
Disciplinary issues arising from a possible breach of this policy will be dealt with through the firm’s normal disciplinary process.
However in every case the Equality and Diversity Partner and the Compliance Officer Legal Practice should be notified.
- Forms of Discrimination
It is important that employees and partners have an understanding of the law on discrimination appropriate to their role. This section summarises the forms of discrimination which we are all obliged to avoid, and the duty to make reasonable adjustments to help people overcome disadvantages due to a disability. Any request from an employee or partner for further information or training on this subject will be given sympathetic consideration by the firm.
7.1 Protected Characteristics
The law forbids discrimination on grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief and sex or sexual orientation.
7.2 Direct Discrimination
This is where a person is treated less favourably than another person because of a protected characteristic.
7.3 Discrimination by Association
This is direct discrimination against someone because they associate with another person who possesses a protected characteristic.
7.4 Perception Discrimination
This is direct discrimination against someone because others think they possess a particular protected characteristic (even if they do not actually possess that characteristic).
7.5 Indirect Discrimination
This can occur where a rule, policy or practice applies to everyone but particularly disadvantages people who share a protected characteristic. Indirect discrimination can be justified if the rule, policy or practice is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
This is unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or otherwise offensive environment for that individual. The law on harassment does not apply to pregnancy and maternity and marriage and civil partnership.
7.7 Third Party Harassment
The firm can be liable for harassment of its employees by people who are not employees, such as clients, if it has not taken reasonable steps to prevent such harassment recurring when it was aware of previous occurrences.
This is where an employee is treated badly because they have made or supported a complaint, or raised a grievance under the Equality Act or because they are suspected of doing so. An employee is not protected from victimisation if they have maliciously made or supported an untrue complaint.
7.9 Disability Discrimination
A person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. The law relating to disability differs from that which applies to other protected characteristics. The firm may be required to make reasonable adjustments to help people overcome disadvantages due to an impairment.