Background

Mr Abrams was a member of EAD, a limited liability partnership (LLP). As he got near to retirement, he set up a limited company for tax reasons. He was the sole director and principal shareholder of this company, which took his place as a member of the LLP.  Under the Equality Act 2010, LLPs are under a duty not to dis- criminate against a member. When Mr Abrams reached the age when he would normally retire from being a member of the LLP, the LLP objected to his company remaining a member and to him continuing to supply his services to the LLP.

Mr Abrams brought an age discrimination claim on be- half of both himself as an individual and on behalf of his company.

The EAT held that the company could bring a claim of discrimination.

What does this mean?

A limited company can bring a claim that it has been directly discriminated against where it suffers detrimen- tal treatment because of the protected characteristic of someone with whom it is associated.

The fact that only individuals can have the protected characteristics listed in the Equality Act 2010 does not mean that only individuals can be protected from dis- crimination.

What should employers do?

This case marks an important development in discrimi- nation law. However, its impact in the employment field may be limited. The majority of claims under Part 5 of the Equality Act 2010 (discrimination at work) rely on the Claimant showing they are in employment or ap- plying for employment. This is a contract to do work ‘personally’ which a company is unlikely to be able to prove since it can only function through the actions of his officers and employees.

Case reference: EAD Solicitors LLP and others v Abrams