What happens if you try to stop equality law applying to a situation

You cannot stop equality law applying to a situation if it does in fact apply. For example, there is no point in making a statement in a contract of employment that equality law does not apply. The statement will not have any legal effect. That is, it will not be possible to enforce or rely on a term in a contract that tries to do this. This is the case even if the other person has stated they have understood the term and/or they have agreed to it.

For example:

  • A worker’s contract includes a term saying that they cannot bring a claim in an Employment Tribunal. Their employer sexually harasses them. The term in their contract does not stop them bringing a claim for sexual harassment in the Employment Tribunal.
  • A business partner’s partnership agreement contains a term that says ‘equality law does not apply to this agreement’. The partner develops a visual impairment and needs reasonable adjustments to remove barriers to their continuing to do their job. The other partners instead ask them to resign from the partnership. The partner can still bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal for a failure to make reasonable adjustments and unlawful disability discrimination.
  • An applicant for a job is told ‘equality law does not apply to this business, it is too small’. She still agrees to go to work there. When she becomes pregnant, she is dismissed. She can still bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal for pregnancy discrimination.

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