Equality Act 2010: Themis Member successfully defends the Glasgow Housing Association
Themis member Michael Upton acted for the successful defenders in a case brought under the Equality Act 2010 by the housing charity Shelter. The pursuer, Jacqueline Thomson, sued for damages from Scotland’s largest residential landlord, the Glasgow Housing Association.
Miss Thomson averred that she had applied to the Association for housing as a disabled person. However, while her application was pending, she had also become homeless. The Association grouped applications by disabled persons and homeless persons separately; waiting time in a group counted towards being offered a dwelling, but an applicant who moved from one group to another lost the waiting time that she had accrued in the group which she was leaving.
She brought an action for indirect discrimination and failure to make reasonable adjustments for her as a disabled person, under sections 15 and 19-21 of the 2010 Act.
By judgment dated 4 August Sheriff Kelly has dismissed the action.
The Sheriff accepted that, as matter of relevantly averring a loss which could sound in damages, the pursuer’s averments of being deprived of a substantially greater chance of obtaining a dwelling were relevant for inquiry.
However, her pleadings failed to identify a provision, criterion or practice of the Association which it was said should have been different. Moreover, the averments of indirect discrimination were irrelevant; the pursuer compared the longer waiting time for disabled applicants with shorter waiting time for homeless applicants, but that did not compare like with like, because there are fewer dwellings suitable for disabled applicants.
The pursuer also pled breach of the public-sector equality duty imposed by section 149. The Sheriff rejected a plea that that part of her claim was time-barred. He held that when the six-month time-bar for proceedings under the Act had elapsed, her pleadings about section 149 had been sufficient to amount to a relevant claim, so as to stop the running of time against her.
However, he also held that the Sheriff Court does not have jurisdiction over a claim for failure to comply with the public-sector equality duty. That would seem to mean that section 149 is a matter which an aggrieved individual may only invoke in an application for judicial review, or as incidentally relevant to action for breach of another duty under the Act.
A parallel action by Miss Thomson against Glasgow City Council arising from its handling of her housing application was also dismissed.