Leading gay rights charity Stonewall has commented on a controversy surrounding retail giant New Look’s staff discount policy, which may be “indirectly discrimnating” against employees in same-sex relationships.
New Look has confirmed that its staff discount is “under review”, after a PinkNews investigation revealed that its policy which allows a 50% discount to employees, and the same discount to one other person specifically of the opposite sex, could be in breach of the Equality Act 2010.
Despite that New Look specifically stated that the discount was “absolutely not designed to be a couples benefit”, a leading law firm advised PinkNews that the policy may be in breach of the Act by “indirectly discriminating” against people in same-sex couples.
Acting Stonewall Chief Executive Ruth Hunt, told PinkNews: “Lesbian, gay and bisexual people play a rather important role in Britain’s fashion industry. If New Look wants to attract the very best staff they might want to revisit this particular policy.”
A New Look spokesperson had responded to PinkNews to say: “At New Look we are committed to listening to our employees to make sure they are being treated fairly and we continually review policies to make sure they match this. In light of recent feedback from our employees on our staff discount privileges we are reviewing our current policy in its entirety and ask for sufficient time to complete this.”
Following comments criticising the policy from Tory Vice Chair Michael Fabricant and Labour Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities Gloria De Piero, the company reiterated that the policy was “under review”, but that “we will not be commenting on the issue further.”
Mark Bramwell, a Solicitor at MyLawyer, a firm providing legal services for customers of Barclays, Natwest and RBS, The AA and Admiral, had advised PinkNews that in his opinion: ”This is clearly indirect discrimination of gay staff and a breach of the Equality Act 2010.”