This month marks the 25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act – have you ever experienced discrimination from a consumer perspective?
The Disability Discrimination Act was a law passed in 1995 making it illegal to discriminate against someone because of their disability.
It was the result of a public campaign and at least 100,000 people in demonstrations, to force the government to end state and business discrimination against people with disabilities.
In 2010 it was replaced by the Equality Act, which extended protections to other characteristics, such as age, race, religion, sexual orientation and gender.
Alhough progress has been made to enshrine equal rights in UK law, discrimination does still happen.
We both want and need to do more to investigate discrimination and racism faced by many of us, be more representative of UK consumers and ensure we provide practical advice on what to do if you’re treated unfairly because of a protected characteristic.
Our new guide on the Equality Act outlines your rights and how to take action if a company harasses, victimises or discriminates against you.
We also want to hear from you if you’ve experienced discriminatory behaviour when buying goods or services, so we can identify the issues that need looking at more closely. You can comment below or email us at email@example.com
So what does discrimination look like, and where and how might you experience it as a consumer? The following are real-life examples of how it happens and the impact it has.
Booking holidays or services
You might come across discriminatory policies or behaviour when booking holidays or other services.
Examples of this we’ve seen have included a holiday letting company refusing to let an Asian customer book a property, and a B&B owner refusing to let out a room to a gay couple.
If you come across any services that discriminate based on protected characteristics, we want to hear about it.
In-store discrimination and harassment
A member of our Policy team recently told me about a time they witnessed discrimination while shopping in-store: three Black customers were searched on their way in and out of the shop, while other non-Black customers did not receive the same treatment.
Other examples have included a shopping assistant making a derogatory comment to a trans woman using the female changing rooms.
This behaviour could – and we believe should – be challenged under the Equality Act.
Wheelchair users should also be treated equally to other customers when shopping: if you need assistance and are told to wait, or don’t receive the assistance you’ve asked for, you can take action against the company.
And if you’re denied entry to a bar, restaurant or other public space because of your race, sex, disability or any other protected characteristic, this is likely to be unlawful under the Equality Act.
Unfair deals and discounts
Investigations in 2017 by Consumer Reports (the American consumer body) found car insurers charging higher premiums in some postcodes populated by ethnic minorities.
You shouldn’t be offered better or worse deals because you hold a particular protected characteristic.
If you come across marketing deals or policies that unfairly penalise a specific group of people, we want to hear about it.
You can read about the Equality Act 2010 in more detail on our advice page, and comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to share your experiences.