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Calls to make ‘povertyism’ a protected characteristic under anti-discrimination laws

By November 22, 2022Employment

In an address to the United Nations (UN) on 28 October 2022, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Olivier De Schutter, called for “povertyism” to be added to anti-discrimination law. In his report, De Schutter defines povertyism as negative stereotyping of the poor which can cause people not to take up their rights. This can be because it discourages them from applying for jobs and benefits. He provides an example such as a candidate’s CV being more harshly judged based on the applicant’s address being in a deprived area.  

Despite povertyism being a global problem, studies show that poverty is more stigmatised in wealthier countries with greater inequalities. 

The Equality Act 2010 outlines nine protected characteristics, which are characteristics that are illegal to discriminate against someone because of. When a new protected characteristic is suggested, for example, menopause, it provokes a lot of commentary and debate. At the moment the protected characteristics are: 

  • Age  
  • Disability 
  • Gender reassignment  
  • Marriage and civil partnership 
  • Pregnancy and maternity 
  • Race 
  • Religion or belief 
  • Sex 
  • Sexual orientation 

There are no immediate plans in the UK to introduce povertyism as a protected characteristic, but it is something we could hear more about over the coming years.  

If you would like any more information about protected characteristics, or discrimination claims generally, then please do not hesitate to contact a member of the employment team at Glaisyers ETL.  

Gemma Wilson

Author Gemma Wilson

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