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Discrimination on the basis of Covid vaccinations

Is it really discrimination?

Didn't find your answer?

Less of a question, more of a rant by the end, but if anyone can justify why this is discrimination rather than a statistically coincidence, please do.

Client phoned, ranting a little homself.  He runs a couple of care homes and most of his workers are vaccinated.  No problem.  Some arent, because they are scared of needles or have moral/personal/other objections.  He reckons one or two are milking it because they think they might get an easy ride one way or another.

He is obviously carefully following developments in terms of compulsory vaccination for careworkers but is considering telling all staff to either get a jab or give him a bloody good reason why they havent.  Anyone who cant fulfil either of these two fairly basic requests will find themselves unemployed.   Once he has the list of 'non-compliers' he will assess their reasons and consider whether they have a future in a role which doesnt involve contact with inmates or other staff (if possible).   I have naturally suggested he take legal/HR advice on the matter but personally i find his approach sensible.

There is a lot of debate over this, and Covid passports, and it is suggested by some that to implement any of these safety strategies "discriminates" against persons in any demographic where vaccination take-up is low.  As a concept i find that riddiculous.  If i ran a pub, care home, or any other business and i said I'd only admit (for example) men, then this would discriminate against women because there's not a lot they can do about their gender.  If i saidf I'd only let people in if they owned a Ferrari, then that might discriminate against those who dont earn enough to buy a Ferrari.  If, however, I said I'd only admit customers who had accepted their invitation for a free vaccination paid for by the NHS, and i am making this decision on safety grounds, then how on earth am i discriminating against anyone?  OK so at the moment not everyone has had an invite, so there may be an indirect age disadvantage, but if we fast-farward a couple of months that will no longer apply.

The issue which seems to be raised by most of those who claim a discrimination angle to compulsory vaccination in care settings, or vaccine certification to alolow greater freedom, is that it disproportinally affects people from BAME backgrounds who, according to many news sources are "disproportionally vaccine-hesitant" and who also make up quite a large proportion of careworkers.  Surely that's a statistical coincidence though?  Implementing safefy measures doesnt discriminate against them because of their religion, ethnicity, or anything else.  They are all equally able to access the vaccine, and they are all equally able to enjoy the freedoms attached to that.  If they choose not to (whether that's because of a genuine needle phobia or tin-hat syndrome) then surely that's their choice and they accept the consequences..............

Replies (92)

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By paul.benny
15th Apr 2021 10:00

Mr_awol wrote:
...The issue which seems to be raised by most of those who claim a discrimination ...is that it disproportionally affects people from BAME backgrounds , who ... make up quite a large proportion of careworkers.  Surely that's a statistical coincidence though? 

That's called indirect discrimination.

Since the vaccine has only been offered universally to the 50+, anything that today would mandate a vaccine also (indirectly) discriminates on age.

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Replying to paul.benny:
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By Mr_awol
15th Apr 2021 10:42

It's not though is it.

It's self-discrimination if the rules are evenly applied and a proportion of society chooses to exclude themselves.

If the client thought "i want to stick it to x/y/z group of people, i know they're vaccine hesitant, and this is a way of achieving my aim" then THAT would be indirect discrimination.

The age thing on the other hand is valid, as there's not a lot people can do about that, but i had already covered that exception in my OP and in reality it doesn't apply to careworkers (as age isn't a factor for them, they can have it now even if they're 20) and wont apply by the time any mass event covid certification scheme or travel scheme may be introduced.

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Replying to Mr_awol:
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By paul.benny
15th Apr 2021 11:56

I'm not a lawyer, still less a human rights lawyer, but I think you will find that a policy that disproportionately affects one group* over others is considered to be discriminatory. It's the effect that counts, not the intent.

Hence, for example, policies related to headwear may discriminate against Sikh men.

---
*group meaning those having a protected characteristic such as race, religion or gender.

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Replying to paul.benny:
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By Mr_awol
15th Apr 2021 16:05

paul.benny wrote:

I'm not a lawyer, still less a human rights lawyer, but I think you will find that a policy that disproportionately affects one group* over others is considered to be discriminatory. It's the effect that counts, not the intent.

Hence, for example, policies related to headwear may discriminate against Sikh men.

---
*group meaning those having a protected characteristic such as race, religion or gender.

Nearly.

Under the equality act, indirect discrimination needs four things:
1) there must be a policy which an organisation is applying equally to everyone (or to everyone in a group that includes you)
2) the policy must disadvantage people with your protected characteristic when compared with people without it
3) you must be able to show that it has disadvantaged you personally or that it will disadvantage you
4) the organisation cannot show that there is a good reason for applying the policy despite the level of disadvantage to people with your protected characteristic

Item four is relevant. If the organisation can show 'good reason' then it is not indirect discrimination as there is 'objective justification'.

So, as you say, policies against headwear may discriminate against sikh men if there is no good reason for them. There is even an exemption from some H&S legislation which means that Sikh men will not ordinarily be required to wear a hard hat on building sites. That isnt because it's indirect discrimination to make them though, it's because the are specifically exempted from the requirement - there are still occasions when sikh men might be required to use protective headgear - https://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/faqs/sikhs-head-protection.htm - so the overriding defence of objective justification against an indirect discrimination claim still stands (albeit that the exemption may remove the justification in some circumstances).

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Replying to paul.benny:
By Duggimon
15th Apr 2021 10:46

The vaccine has been offered universally to care home workers.

Discrimination against those not taking the vaccine is not discrimination based on their race, directly or indirectly, a statistical correlation does not imply causation.

If it is legal to dismiss staff because they won't get vaccinated (and I have no idea whether it is but I suspect that it isn't) then there would be no case to answer in terms of racial discrimination because the vaccine remains a choice. Even if you could prove a person's race made them less likely to get the vaccine (for which I would hope you would need more than a statistical correlation) they would still have chosen not to get it.

Now, if it emerged that the vaccine was more dangerous to people from different ethnic backgrounds you would indeed have a potential issue with racial discrimination.

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Replying to Duggimon:
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By paul.benny
15th Apr 2021 12:01

Wholly agree that correlation does not imply causation. But indirect discrimination is just a (rebuttable) matter of correlation.

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Replying to paul.benny:
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By AS
15th Apr 2021 11:20

It may be age discrimination but it will be for a very short period and the benefits to the whole economy and the mental health of elderly people massively outweigh the short term discrimination.

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Replying to AS:
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By paul.benny
15th Apr 2021 11:49

Other consequences of discrimination (eg benefits to the economy) do not of themselves make discrimination lawful - although Parliament may choose to make an exception.

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By Wycher
15th Apr 2021 10:39

I think personally a policy that says you need to have a vaccination once you are eligible to have one to work in a care home or hospital is quite reasonable, not just to protect the patients but also the staff member.

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Replying to Wycher:
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By Mr_awol
15th Apr 2021 10:48

Wycher wrote:

I think personally a policy that says you need to have a vaccination once you are eligible to have one to work in a care home or hospital is quite reasonable, not just to protect the patients but also the staff member.

I agree - and (based on my interpretation at least) so would John Stuart Mill.

In fact I'd say it's hard to argue against it unless you're a civil liberties nut-job who thinks that the freedom and safety of a small number is more important than freedom and safety for all.

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Replying to Mr_awol:
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By Wycher
15th Apr 2021 11:23

I personally have no problem with the idea of a covid passport, in fact, given that we all want to be able to return to hobbies etc that in may cases have been on hold for over a year, I believe the use of covid passport could speed up the process significantly.

I understand that having the vaccine does not stop you getting covid but it forms one of the key basis of herd immunity, which given covid is not going to disappear any time soon now seems like the only route out of this crisis.

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Replying to Mr_awol:
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By Tax Dragon
15th Apr 2021 11:38

Mr_awol wrote:

In fact I'd say it's hard to argue against it unless you're a civil liberties nut-job who thinks that the freedom and safety of a small number is more important than freedom and safety for all.

Is anyone who disagrees with you automatically a nut-job?

I better not disagree then. I will note that your comment makes an interesting counterpoint to the voting advert in the US ("For American democracy to work for any of us, we must ensure the right to vote for all of us.") By "all", they mean "all"; but you mean "everyone else especially me".

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By Mr_awol
15th Apr 2021 11:52

Tax Dragon wrote:

Is anyone who disagrees with you automatically a nut-job?

I better not disagree then. I will note that your comment makes an interesting counterpoint to the voting advert in the US ("For American democracy to work for any of us, we must ensure the right to vote for all of us.") By "all", they mean "all"; but you mean "everyone else especially me".

Automatically? no. Interestingly you've hit on the same conundrum as to whether we are dealing with cause and effect or a statistical anomaly.

Just because someone disagrees with me that doesn't MAKE them a nut-job. However, in this case at least (and i would naturally argue in most cases too) it may well be the nut-jobs i refer to that DO disagree.

Unless of course they are right and the majority are wrong (could happen, particularly in matters like this where most of us make relatively uninformed decisions based upon the information we are fed, mostly without the technical knowledge to understand the facts at hand. Kind of like Any Answers on a bad day). Then all of a sudden they are either the enlightened ones, or just picked the right horse by blind luck i guess.

I'm also curious as to whether Bill gates already knows my every move after a single dose, or whether he needs both doses to track me effectively. That's a pondering that takes us even further away from the matter at hand though

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Replying to Mr_awol:
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By Tax Dragon
15th Apr 2021 12:05

Let me translate (I thought you would have understood).

You said that nut-jobs think that the freedom of a small number is more important than freedom for all. I happen to think that freedom for all means freedom for all. If ANY lose freedom without good cause, then ALL our freedoms are in danger. There, I said it. Maybe I am a nut-job. (In the US, if any are disenfranchised, democracy dies for all.)

Having said this, I don't see the relevance to the vaccine question in your OP, which is a thorny issue not so easily reduced to pithy soundbites.

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By jwgrogan
15th Apr 2021 12:37

Tax Dragon wrote:

. I happen to think that freedom for all means freedom for all. If ANY lose freedom without good cause, then ALL our freedoms are in danger.

It's not as clear cut as that. Every time someone asserts their own freedom it always impinges on someone else's freedom in some way. Every time someone refuses a vaccine it impinges on the freedom of everybody they meet to expect that everyone has taken every reasonable precaution not to infect them.

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Replying to jwgrogan:
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By Tax Dragon
15th Apr 2021 12:47

jwgrogan wrote:

It's not as clear cut as that.

I think that was my point. It wasn't me started using soundbites and calling people nutters if they disagreed with said soundbites.

(I wasn't - and am not - contributing to the debate in hand, so much as reacting to the manner of a tiny part of how the debate was being conducted - and that by someone who normally aspires to improve the forum. Apologies that my reaction has become such a distraction. Please, y'all, move on... nothing to see here.)

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
Stepurhan
By stepurhan
15th Apr 2021 12:54

Tax Dragon wrote:
I happen to think that freedom for all means freedom for all. If ANY lose freedom without good cause, then ALL our freedoms are in danger.

I applaud the principle, but freedoms are curtailed every day for good reason.

I am not allowed to drive a car, because I do not know how to drive. I cannot have sex with anyone I want unless they consent to it (also my wife would probably object). I cannot murder clients, no matter how annoying they are.

A true civil liberties nut-job will say everybody should be allowed to do whatever they like. I doubt you really think that way. I suspect that your view is that freedoms should only be curtailed where an action poses significant risk of harm to others. Also any curtailment should only be enough to eliminate that risk, or at least reduce it to an acceptable level, and no more.

Does this fit into the category of necessary curtailments? I personally feel that it does. You may disagree with me, but that does not automatically make you a nut-job.

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Replying to stepurhan:
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By Tax Dragon
15th Apr 2021 12:59

Overreaction city!

stepurhan wrote:

A true civil liberties nut-job...

...my immediate reaction was "oh great, now I'm being called a fake nut-job!"

Fortunately I read on and your final sentence calmed me down again.

(Still nothing to see here, folks.)

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
Stepurhan
By stepurhan
15th Apr 2021 14:30

Tax Dragon wrote:
"oh great, now I'm being called a fake nut-job!"

Perhaps you need to try harder. I understand true nut-jobs call people who disagree with them incomprehensible insults based on smashing two words together. Also you need to froth more.

You complete Tagon you! (froth, froth). :-)

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Replying to stepurhan:
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By Tax Dragon
15th Apr 2021 16:56

I fear frothing would put my fire out. Then I'd have to change my pseudonym.

I think I'll just have to stay a fake.

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Replying to stepurhan:
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By Mr_awol
15th Apr 2021 13:34

stepurhan wrote:

A true civil liberties nut-job will say everybody should be allowed to do whatever they like. I doubt you really think that way. I suspect that your view is that freedoms should only be curtailed where an action poses significant risk of harm to others. Also any curtailment should only be enough to eliminate that risk, or at least reduce it to an acceptable level, and no more.

.

Exactly. “Your freedom to swing your fist ends where my nose begins” and all that. If only someone had covered all of this extensively in 1859..........

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By Mr_awol
15th Apr 2021 13:30

Tax Dragon wrote:

Let me translate (I thought you would have understood).

You said that nut-jobs think that the freedom of a small number is more important than freedom for all. I happen to think that freedom for all means freedom for all. If ANY lose freedom without good cause, then ALL our freedoms are in danger. There, I said it. Maybe I am a nut-job. (In the US, if any are disenfranchised, democracy dies for all.)

Having said this, I don't see the relevance to the vaccine question in your OP, which is a thorny issue not so easily reduced to pithy soundbites.

Perhaps I'd digressed too early into light hearted side-tracking with the nut-job remark, and certainly with my reply to your question as to whether that term applied to everyone who disagreed with me, or just those who are wrong...........

But, to be clear i did understand and part of my earlier post already dealt with your American Democracy point, in referencing (albeit not by name) JSM's harm principle "that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right... The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign."

With JSM being so influential in the history of classical liberalism it would follow that one would need to be, shall we say, a civil liberties extremist to argue that their own right to choose should trump the right to life of anyone placed in their care - i.e. a care worker who chooses to refuse a vaccine.

Note the importance of choice to refuse over genuine inability to accept. That's where the relevance to vaccine in the OP comes in. How can you be discrimination against someone who voluntarily excludes themselves.

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Replying to Mr_awol:
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By paul.benny
15th Apr 2021 14:00

Mill is, of course, a 19th century philosopher whose ideas may inform a debate about what is 'right'. He's not a judge or a legislator who determines what is lawful.

Mill's thinking is from a time when concepts of equality and discrimination were unheard of - so people of colour were to be ruled over, women were barred from the professions and homosexuality was illegal. I don't suppose these were included in his idea of harm to others that should be proscribed.

As for 'choice'... I cannot choose my skin colour but I can choose whether to marry. And both are protected characteristics under the law. It may be my choice to book a room in your hotel, but if I arrive with a same-sex partner and am then turned away, that's unlawful.

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Replying to paul.benny:
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By Mr_awol
15th Apr 2021 15:14

paul.benny wrote:

As for 'choice'... I cannot choose my skin colour but I can choose whether to marry. And both are protected characteristics under the law. It may be my choice to book a room in your hotel, but if I arrive with a same-sex partner and am then turned away, that's unlawful.

No it isn't, and that remains (at least part of) the point.

Let us keep the same example running. If you arrive at my hotel with your same sex partner, and another couple who happen to be of opposite sexes also turn up, and i have made a complete hash of the bookings and double booked the only room available, then one of you is (or more accurately two of you are) going to be turned away. For the moment, let us ignore the matter of compensation, refund, and/or finding alternative accommodation and treat this as an innocent over-booking and assume you cant all share a room.

Now if i select my guests based on who arrived first, or who booked first, then there is no discrimination. If i display completely homophobic contempt for your plight that may make me a lousy person but still doesn't necessarily mean there is any actual discrimination in terms of my decision making. If, on the other hand, i kick you out and move the other couple in because i don't want "your kind" in my hotel (or if i lie about the overbooking as an excuse to get rid of you) then there is, absolutely and undeniably, discrimination.

Now, the next stage needs quite a bit of imagination to make sense - and the data wont be available and i certainly cant be bothered to research it nor, i suspect, can you be bothered to check it. So let's work on a hypothetical scenario where there is statistical data to suggest that same sex couples tend to check into hotels later and/or tend to book their accommodation later, than mixed sex couples. It would be entirely reasonable for me to admit to the room the 'first' couple to check in - particularly if i was unaware of my error - or to admit the couple that booked the room first and that (in this scenario) would mean you and your partner being turned away.

Is my policy of admitting the first couple to check in, or to book, my inadvertently overbooked room, discriminatory? I would argue not - unless i reviewed the stats in advance and created my policy as an excuse to disproportionately affect same sex couples, or if i didn't have a policy and just made it up on the spot for the same reason.

Mill is relevant because, in the absence of other factors, it is of course every individual's right to choose (due to the freedoms we all enjoy) whether to get a vaccination or not. However, those choices may lead to implications on others and my choice to do something to make me happy does not trump the right of others to not be harmed by my choice.

Incidentally i have been turned away from accommodation before, not for being in a same-sex couple but for telling the owner of the accommodation that my car had broken down and I needed a room for me and my (at the time) "girlfriend". Had i said "wife" all would have been well, as far as i was led to believe at the time. Although we lived together (in sin of course) we were discriminated against because we had not married at that point, although we later did.

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Replying to Mr_awol:
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By paul.benny
15th Apr 2021 15:55

MrAwol wrote:
Is my policy of admitting the first couple to check in, or to book, my inadvertently overbooked room, discriminatory?

It may be indirectly discriminatory if it systematically disadvantages those with a protected characteristic. That's what indirect discrimination is. It's nothing to do with intent and everything to do with effect.

And to repeat myself in different words, Mill is about philosophy, not law. If insisting that care home workers are vaccinated (on pain of losing their job) disproportionately affects people of colour, it's probably unlawful. It doesn't matter whether that arises out of choices made by the subjects of discrimination.

Whether that's right is a different discussion (see also anything to do with HMRC, lease accounting, filing deadlines, etc).

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Replying to paul.benny:
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By Mr_awol
15th Apr 2021 16:46

paul.benny wrote:

MrAwol wrote: Is my policy of admitting the first couple to check in, or to book, my inadvertently overbooked room, discriminatory?

It may be indirectly discriminatory if it systematically disadvantages those with a protected characteristic. That's what indirect discrimination is. It's nothing to do with intent and everything to do with effect.

And to repeat myself in different words, Mill is about philosophy, not law. If insisting that care home workers are vaccinated (on pain of losing their job) disproportionately affects people of colour, it's probably unlawful. It doesn't matter whether that arises out of choices made by the subjects of discrimination.

Whether that's right is a different discussion (see also anything to do with HMRC, lease accounting, filing deadlines, etc).

No No No. Youve got indirect discrimination all wrong when you say "if it systematically disadvantages those with a protected characteristic. That's what indirect discrimination is" (although you preceed that with it may be, so perhaps youre not as certain after all).

You infer from that comment, that if a group/category/person/etc is disadvantaged, regardless of intent, that it is automatically discrimination. I am pointing out that if an organisation/person/etc has objective justification, then it isnt.

So your assertion that enforced vaccination if "probably unlawful" just because it disproportionately affects a certain group of people is incorrect. The true test is whether or not the policy of requiring a vaccination is justified, or whether other measures would have been more reasonable.

I've covered what is and isn't indirect discrimination in more detail above, right at the top of the page, but id only just done that when i saw you reply so you probably hadn't seen it when you made your own post.

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Replying to Mr_awol:
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By paul.benny
15th Apr 2021 17:03

My definition of indirect discrimination seems consistent with some reliable authorities:

ACAS wrote:
Indirect discrimination can happen when there are rules or arrangements that apply to a group of employees or job applicants, but in practice are less fair to a certain protected characteristic.

Citizens Advice wrote:
Indirect discrimination is when there’s a practice, policy or rule which applies to everyone in the same way, but it has a worse effect on some people than others. The Equality Act says it puts you at a particular disadvantage.

True, indirect discrimination can be justified if it can be shown it’s a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. But (and here I'm less sure of my case), I think this shifts the burden of proof - ie the policy has to be shown to be proportionate means etc, rather than being an automatic defence.

(edited to add final phrase)

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Replying to paul.benny:
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By Mr_awol
15th Apr 2021 17:34

Despite both being reasonable sources, ACAS do clearly state indirect discrimination "can" happen when..... Citizens Advice appear to have oversimplified to leave an incorrect statement.

https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/commonly-used... sets out the position a bit more clearly or you could go to S19(2)(d) of the Equality Act 2010 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/section/19 which states that for the action to be discriminatory it has to include the condition that "A cannot show it to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim"

Whilst the burden of proof on that items does appear to fall on 'the accused' it is not a defence or justification of indirect discrimination it is part of the test as to whether discrimination even occurred in the first place.

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By jon_griffey
15th Apr 2021 11:27

The other side of this coin is that if a care home resident dies of Covid and the employer had knowingly allowed unvaccinated staff to come into contact with the resident then they will find themselves on the receiving end of a lawsuit. Who would ever run a business/be an employer eh?

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Replying to jon_griffey:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
15th Apr 2021 11:48

Good point. What do the care home insurers say I wonder?

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Replying to jon_griffey:
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By paul.benny
15th Apr 2021 14:07

Vaccines protect the vaccinated person from becoming ill as a result of the virus. They do not prevent them carrying said virus, and I understand it, there is only limited evidence of their efficacy in preventing onward transmission. In other words, I can have had both jabs and still infect you with the virus.

That makes it even more difficult to identify the source of an infection that leads to the death of a care home resident, let alone to show that the care home management were negligent.

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Replying to paul.benny:
By jon_griffey
15th Apr 2021 16:57

You may or may not be right about the efficacy in preventing onwards transmission. I am no virologist but it seems logical that viruses need to invade cells in order to multiply and create the viral load to be infectious to others, and so an effective vaccine must surely suppress this to a significant extent.

Although negligence may be difficult to prove, that doesn't stop some no win/no fee claims cowboys from taking the case on and you have 10 years of grief to deal with to prove it.

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Stepurhan
By stepurhan
15th Apr 2021 11:45

I see it as akin to having to wear safety equipment on a building site or sealed suits in a lab. It is a requirement everyone can fulfill that is for the safety of you and your fellow workers.

There was someone on BBC Breakfast this morning that said it was discrimination. When asked what if a resident insisted they were attended only by vaccinated staff, they likened that to asking for only white or heterosexual staff. It made me so angry how ridiculous that comparison was.

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Replying to stepurhan:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
15th Apr 2021 11:49

That'll teach you for watching the BBC. If you read Private Eye there is an interesting piece in issue 1544.

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
Stepurhan
By stepurhan
15th Apr 2021 12:43

Thanks for the tip.

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By lesley.barnes
15th Apr 2021 12:09

Speaking as someone whose mum is in a carehome I would want all her carers to be vaccinated unless there was a medical reason not to. The home has never opened up after closing just before mothers day last year. The only access is half hour zoom meetings. Each time the rules have been relaxed before the opening the home has had an outbreak of Covid and remained closed. It couldn't possibly be visitors taking Covid in no visitors are allowed, any gifts etc sent in were quarantined for 3 days and then had to withstand anti bac spray.
It is closed now firstly because of another Covid outbreak and now until the end of April to allow 3 weeks after all residents second vaccination.
Mum had no choice but to have the vaccination - she has no capacity, I wasn't asked as her representative. (I wouldn't have objected anyway.) All residents were vaccinated, staff were given the option to be vaccinated at the same time. I know there are some grumbles among staff because not all staff agreed to be vaccinated.

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Psycho
By Wilson Philips
15th Apr 2021 12:27

If it can be demonstrated that vaccination is particularly relevant to the nature of the job role then I don't see it as being any more discriminatory than, say, a requirement that prospective employees hold a clean UK driving licence.

However, like others, I am no HR or employment law specialist but I'd be surprised if threatening to sack existing employees that choose not to take the vaccine did not result in adverse consequences for the employer.

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Replying to Wilson Philips:
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By Mr_awol
15th Apr 2021 13:09

That in itself is an interesting issue though. The sector tends to have reasonable levels of staff turnover (or maybe my client is not a good employer or is a low payer and that's why he has high staff turnover). Essentially, though, with a lot of staff having been with him less than two years, he may be free to fire those who don't comply with his policy as they have limited/no right to pursue an unfair dismissal claim. UNLESS, that is, he is discriminatory, in which case i believe the two year rule does not apply.

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By Hugo Fair
15th Apr 2021 13:18

Almost all the responders so far have been focussed on the iniquities (or otherwise) of those who turn-down the 'offer' of a vaccine jab ... and then get side-tracked by the (unknown) legal/HR consequences of terminating employment of any such refuseniks.

But there are (and are likely to remain) those who will NEVER be offered the jab (mostly for medical reasons) ... so would you discriminate against a disabled person?

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Replying to Hugo Fair:
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By Wycher
15th Apr 2021 15:25

I would see no issue with a covid passport or exemption being issued to a person who for medical reasons could not take vaccination. Same principle would apply in a job environment. However, I wonder how many people who for medical reasons could not have the vaccination would also be working in what would be high risk areas?.

The issue of civil liberties is tricky as before this crisis I think I would have been personally against identity cards etc but the affect of this virus on all the things that I would normally wish to do has changed my perspective slightly.

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Replying to Hugo Fair:
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By Mr_awol
15th Apr 2021 15:29

I would suggest that the criteria for whether it is discrimination would remain the same.

If the policy is based on the safety of the many, and happens to exclude a category of person, then that is not discrimination but just bad luck.

It is a sad reflection on society, but also somewhat ironic, that we even categorise people by irrelevant attributes such as race, sexuality, etc in the first place. A real chicken and egg situation - if persons in a particular category weren't discriminated against there would be no need to harvest (what would become) meaningless statistics but still, some elements from both sides do insist that we either treat one or other differently or at least monitor it. If we were all, truly, committed to "equality" nobody would even notice.

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Replying to Mr_awol:
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By Tax Dragon
15th Apr 2021 16:03

Agree.

And a bit of a bee in my bonnet about how/what children are taught at school.

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By Hugo Fair
15th Apr 2021 16:35

Also totally agree (with awol's final para that is)!
But this thread wasn't (or at least didn't start out) about 'protected characteristics' - and the invidious categorisation of people into labelled boxes.
It was about whether it would be discriminatory to prevent an un-vaccinated (but otherwise qualified) individual from continuing their current employment - in particular if the state of non-jab is not that individual's choice.
And my view is that it would be ... unless (or perhaps until) the govt passes new legislation with specific rules for specific jobs.

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Replying to Hugo Fair:
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By Mr_awol
15th Apr 2021 16:43

We have meandered off the original concept (I often do that) TD had a hand in it too, and the format of the forum doesn't always help - I've replied to Paul on two separate occasions in slightly different ways on the same subject.

Ultimately, if you cut though all the fluff and talk of 19th century philosophers, the original question was kind of answered by Paul (albeit wrongly i believe, but that doesn't make him or anyone else a nut-job). Or at least although he didn't lead us to the definitive answer, I'm pretty sure he lead us to the definitive question. Is there objective justification (does the end justify the means i guess).

That could probably be argued for longer than we have, by people much more cleverer than us, and still there might not be a definitive answer - but i suspect that either someone will take a punt, and end up as a test case, or civil servants will discuss it at length (if David Cameron tells them to) and government will legislate. Or not, depending on what is right and/or which lobbyist is the most 'persuasive'.

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By Carole Baldwin
15th Apr 2021 15:18

Medical staff are required to be vaccinated against Hepatitis B. Where's the difference? It is reasonable to require care home staff, and others, to be vaccinated. Vaccination certainly reduces the likelihood of transmission. I think it quite reasonable for a vulnerable person to demand that say a builder or gas fitter working in their home prove they have been vaccinated, let alone a care worker. We are all entitled to protect ourselves from a potentially deadly disease. Insisting people are vaccinated is not discrimination, it is common sense.

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Replying to Carole Baldwin:
Psycho
By Wilson Philips
15th Apr 2021 15:25

There is a significant difference between (the reasons for) Hep B vaccination and COVID vaccination.

And the issue is not about insisting, or encouraging, people to be vaccinated. It is about the treatment of those that do not take the vaccine - as mentioned several times, there are many acceptable reasons for not having the vaccine.

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Replying to Carole Baldwin:
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By paul.benny
15th Apr 2021 16:01

Would you think it reasonable if I asked you to prove you'd been vaccinated before I fix your boiler? And not just Covid, but seasonal flu? Or if I was a woman of child-bearing age, if you'd had your MMR jabs?

Where do you draw the line at sharing medical data?

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Replying to paul.benny:
Psycho
By Wilson Philips
15th Apr 2021 16:45

Indeed - I think that as the tradesperson I'd also want to know if the householder had been in an Ebola-outbreak country, was HIV-positive or not, etc etc etc.

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Replying to Wilson Philips:
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By Mr_awol
15th Apr 2021 17:19

Wilson Philips wrote:

Indeed - I think that as the tradesperson I'd also want to know if the householder had been in an Ebola-outbreak country, was HIV-positive or not, etc etc etc.

Not really. Those viruses are transmitted via contact with bodily fluids which i would not expect tradespersons to exchange with the householder (unless we are associating tradespeople with the cliché of storyline which may or may not have formed the basis of a certain movie genre in the 70s/80s (i wouldn't know, I'm too young, naturally).

Covid on the other hand, swirls around the house settling on all surfaces and it's not quite as simple as not licking the bannister rail (in fact i did hear that it doesn't linger on surfaces as badly as we once thought, or doesn't transmit so easily that way - but i don't know about that so let's assume you don't really want to go in to repair a covid-sufferer's dishwasher).

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Replying to Mr_awol:
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By paul.benny
15th Apr 2021 17:58

The point wasn't really about infectivity and risk but about sharing (some of) our medical history. Most of the time, it's an entirely private matter and there are few scenarios where we can be obliged to disclose it.

Do we think Covid is serious enough to warrant a widespread intrusion into our privacy? Where would you draw the line at who can demand that information?

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