The college student's claim, although ultimately unsuccessful, was based on a decision that a UK residence qualification for tuition fees was indirect race discrimination. The school boy was unsuccessful in his sex discrimination claim but successful in a claim for indirect race discrimination arising from a school rule banning boys wearing cornrows in their hair, and the holiday makers claim was the well publicised case of a gay couple being refused a double bed at a B&B, run by a Christian couple.
Although these claims were brought under the old discrimination legislation (the Race Relations Act, the Sex Discrimination Act and the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations) these rights continue to be protected, and at least in the case of disability discrimination are extended, under the Equality Act 2010.
The Equality Act has a very broad application. Many organisations provide goods, services or facilities to the public, or a section of the public, or carry out public functions. These organisations must do this in a non-discriminatory way. It doesn't matter if the services or public functions are free of if you pay for them, so healthcare providers, local council or government departments or other public bodies are caught by the requirements of the Equality Act, as well as businesses, clubs or associations and charitable organisations.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has produced guidance for service users and students as well as service and educational providers which is updated from time to time which is helpful in terms of explaining what equality law means for all parties.
In many cases the first step to take if issues of discrimination arise is to contact the organisation involved. Most organisations want to provide their services to all members of the community and will do what they can do resolve the situation. Issues such as aisles that are too narrow for wheelchairs may be able to be resolved by rearranging stock or furniture lay out once the business in question is made aware of the problem.
However in other cases a resolution is not so straight forward perhaps because the alleged discriminator believes their actions are in pursuit of a legitimate aim - in the case of the school boy referred to above he was not allowed to wear cornrows in his hair (although girls were) in an attempt to discourage gang culture. Equally if an act of harassment occurs then the victim may well feel the damage is done and seek a remedy via the courts against both the individual worker responsible for the act of harassment and the organisation that employs them. In cases of this nature it is the Equality Act that will be relied upon to resolve the issues.