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Durham e-Theses
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Does the law provide effective equality rights for people with a visible difference in the workplace?

SAUNDERS, HANNAH,ELIZABETH (2020) Does the law provide effective equality rights for people with a visible difference in the workplace? Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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A large body of research highlights the social barriers faced by many people with a visible difference. Yet the number of reported cases under the ‘severe disfigurement’ provision in the Equality Act 2010 is low, and the topic has, to date, not been the subject of significant legal academic debate.

This work evaluates whether UK law provides effective workplace equality for people with a visible difference by reference to a framework of standards constructed from the social model of disability, principles of substantive equality and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. These standards, framed as eight Research Questions, assess whether the law is effective in relation to i) the scope of disadvantage of visible difference ii) intersectionality iii) reasonable adjustments iv) recognition v) access to justice vi) participation and inclusion vii) structural change and viii) remedies. A combination of doctrinal and empirical methods (qualitative interviews conducted with people with a visible difference) are employed to answer these questions. It is concluded that, overall, UK law does not provide effective workplace equality for people with a visible difference.

Options for reform are presented, ranging from discrete amendments within the existing legal structure, to a reformulation of the definition of disability, to the creation of a new protected characteristic, to changes to the individual enforcement model on which the Equality Act 2010 is based. Comparative analysis of the relevant laws in France and the USA is used to inform these proposals for change. It is concluded that an amendment to the definition of disability, combined with additional legal guidance specific to visible difference and measures to soften the individual enforcement model of equality law, offer a promising avenue for legal reform.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Disfigurement, disability, appearance, equality, visible difference, discrimination
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Law, Department of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:15 Sep 2020 10:45

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