LONDON – Global law firm Reed Smith has collaborated with Bank of America to support Face Equality International on a pro bono basis to help provide guidance on how disability law and human rights law can be applied to prevent facial discrimination.

Related Professionals: Carolyn E. Pepper

Face Equality International (‘’the Alliance’’) is an alliance of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), charities and support groups which are working at national, regional or international levels to promote the campaign for ‘face equality’. It is devoted to enabling people with facial disfigurements across the globe to live a life free from discrimination and stigma.

Stage one of the project involved the Reed Smith and Bank of America team producing a written report for Face Equality International on how disability law and human rights law can help individuals combat discrimination they may have experienced on the grounds of facial disfigurement.

The report focused on four key areas of legislation - the UK Equality Act 2010, the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It summarised each piece of legislation, with the specific purpose of setting out the rights available to the constituents of Face Equality International members’ organisations, and to the wider facial difference community whilst identifying any gaps in existing legislation.

As part of the next step of the project, the Alliance has requested that the Reed Smith and Bank of America team to assist with transforming the report into targeted and tailored guidance for specific groups who would benefit from the findings, including individuals with facial disfigurements.

This stage of the project will result in the development of a series of concise and accessible fact sheets, derived from the analysis produced in stage one. These fact sheets will serve as a quick reference guide for Face Equality International member organisations and for individuals who would like to understand how they are protected as well as how they can best enforce their rights under the different pieces of legislation, while also additionally covering equivalent human rights legislation.

Any person who has a facial difference or disfigurement from any cause should have the information available to them and benefit from knowing these individual rights and where they might exist. It is hoped that a greater understanding of the existing information and where the gaps may lie will also serve as an impetus for new or improved protections around the world.

Carolyn Pepper, the co-chair of Reed Smith’s Disability Business Inclusion Group LEADRS, commented:

“We believe in the importance of fostering diversity, equity and inclusion and so we were absolutely delighted when Face Equality International asked us to assist with the important work being done to support its members. We hope that the work that our lawyers and the team at Bank of America have done will be a catalyst for change and will help to combat discrimination against people with facial disfigurements.”