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Public sector equality duty

Before you act

Before you decide what action you should take, think about the end result you want. Do you want to apologize or make things right? Also, think about how fast you can get a response.

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It is often better to solve your problem privately first. This will prevent the problem from getting worse and save you the cost of going to court. However, there are time limitations for legal action. Therefore, it is best to act as soon as possible.

You may need specialist advice from an experienced adviser to help you take action regarding the public sector equality obligation. For example, a Citizens Advice Bureau.

Who can do the right thing?

If you are protected by the Equality Act, you can only challenge a decision or policy through the public sector equality obligation.

What actions can you take?

To remind the public authority of their obligation under the Equality Act, write to them

To inform the public authority that you believe it has violated its duty, you could write a letter. You can also use this method to obtain information that will support your case or court action.

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Public authorities are required to publish information on how they comply with their equality duty in the public sector. You can ask the public authority for information to support your complaint. If you request this information, public authorities must provide it to you.

Before you write a letter to the public authorities, it is important that:

You should clearly identify the decision or policy that has affected you. This is so the public authority can know the issue.

Write down the date you anticipate a response

Consider the time limitations for any other action, such as filing a complaint or taking legal actions.

A Freedom of Information request is another way to get more information. You must submit a Freedom of Information request within 20 days.

You can request information from the public authority if you feel you have been discriminated against.

Resolve a dispute

You can contact the public authority to discuss your issue informally if you wish to file a complaint. You can file a formal complaint if the problem has not been resolved informally.

You can complain to the Ombudsman if your problem is not resolved or you are unhappy with the response of the public authority to your complaint.

Contact the Equality and Human Rights Commission

The Equality and Human Rights Commission may be able you to refer your complaint. The Commission has the enforcement power to take action against public authorities if they fail to meet the public sector equality obligation.

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You should know that even if you file a complaint with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, it does not stop you from taking legal action. You must ensure that you don’t run out of time if you wish to pursue legal action. There are strict deadlines for getting to court.

Legal action

You should seek advice from an experienced advisor if you are considering taking court action, such as a Citizens Advice Bureau.

You must follow a special procedure known as judicial review if you want to sue a public authority regarding their public sector equality duty.

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The public sector equality duty can be used to support a claim against a public agency, such as a discrimination claim or appeal against a housing or benefit decision.

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