This article, written by the EASS for us, explains people’s rights under the Equality Act 2010 and what to do if you believe they’ve been violated.

The health and social care sector has seen many changes these past years and it is important that when things go wrong, you understand that you have a right to complain.

The Equality Advisory Support Service Helpline (EASS) supports individuals who wish to achieve an informal resolution when they feel they have experienced discrimination or want to understand their human rights.

What rights do I have under the Equality Act 2010?

The Equality Act 2010 sets out the protections for people who hold one of the nine protected characteristics stating that it is unlawful to treat an individual less favourably, or unfavourably, because of their protected characteristic. Information about the protected characteristics can be found on the EASS website

Unfavourable and less favourable treatment can come in many forms. As a general ‘rule of thumb it’s accepted that this could be anything that a reasonable person would complain about. Examples could include:

  • Being excluded from something
  • Refusal of service
  • Being deprived of a choice
  • If you are at a disadvantage compared to other service users
  • Quality of service being comparatively poor compared to other service users.

If you feel that you have been subjected to treatment like this, then we can support you to understand your rights and provide guidance to help you address this.

What about my human rights?

Human rights set out the basic rights and freedoms that belong to everyone and these are enshrined within the Human Rights Act 1998.

All UK law must be compatible with this legislation and this means all public bodies (such as courts, police, publicly funded schools, local governments, hospitals etc.) must do all they can to protect your rights and ensure those rights are not infringed upon or interfered with, without justifiable cause.


A local authority is considering moving an individual with dementia into a care home due to concerns about their mental capacity.

Within the Human Rights Act there are many considerations that must be made here.

In particular, under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, the local authority has to consider if it would be removing the individual from their home against their will and if by doing so, the authority would interfere with the individual’s right to a private life, which includes a right to autonomy, a family life and even the right to the home they already have.

Article 8 does allow for interference but in order for the interference to be justified the local authority has to show:

It had the legal right to take that action,
The action was for legitimate reasons and
It was a proportionate way to achieve a legitimate aim.

There are many Articles that fall within the Human Rights Act and you can read about these on the EASS website.  However, determining which of the Articles may be relevant can be difficult to narrow down so we encourage anyone who is seeking to raise a complaint about their human rights to contact us for further guidance.

How do I raise this if I feel they have been breached?

If you feel that your rights have been breached, then you have the right to raise this to the organisation. A good thing to consider is why you feel you have been treated differently, what happened that made you feel that way?

It’s good practice to write things down and collect any evidence you can. Note down the dates you engaged with the service, who you spoke to, what they said etc.

Is there a timescale for legal action?

There are legal time frames for taking an equality or human rights case to court and it is very important you keep this in mind if you wish to go down the legal route later.

For cases of discrimination that fall within the Equality Act 2010 the legal timescale is six months less one day from the date the discriminatory incident happened in the sector of services and public functions.

For cases that fall under the Human Rights Act 1998 the legal timescale is one year from which the action that potentially breached your human rights took place.

However, due to the complexity of human rights cases we do advise it is best to speak to a legal professional to determine your legal timescale as there are various factors that could affect this, such as the type of case you are bringing forward.

What support is out there?

The EASS is able to provide bespoke and tailored advice on a case to empower and help you understand how you are protected. This will help define the most relevant argument so that you have the right tools to take an issue forward.

We offer a range of template letters for discrimination complaints to help you do this.  We also have a digital pack to help you form your argument which includes helpful signposting.  In some circumstances we are able to offer additional support following the use of our template letters.

*The EASS helpline is open Monday to Friday 9am to 7pm and Saturday 10am to 2pm.
Freephone telephone 0808 800 0082
You can also send a message via the website.

This article was written by the EASS and the page was created 24th April 2023.

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Contact the Patients Association helpline

The Patients Association offers a free national helpline providing specialist information and guidance to help patients make sense of their health and social care.  

Patients can talk directly to trained advisers in strict confidence about any concerns, questions or general experiences they have regarding the NHS and social care systems.  

The helpline is open from 9.30 am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, and calls outside these times are returned as soon as possible during opening hours. 

If you would like to contact the helpline, please call free on 0800 345 7115, or visit the Patients Association helpline page on our website for more information.