Discrimination at Work

What is workplace discrimination?

If you think you may be experiencing unfair treatment at work, it’s wise to seek expert legal advice on next steps. Targeted legal help will offer you clarity and support to make an informed decision about your future direction.

The Equality Act 2010 protects employees with ‘protected characteristics’ from unfair treatment. These protected characteristics include gender, marital status, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief and age.

In the workplace there are specific laws against discrimination in relation to these characteristics (termed ‘unlawful discrimination’). If your employer treats you less favourably for an unlawful reason, you may be able to take action.

Different types of Discrimination

  • Direct Discrimination is when an employee is treated differently because of their gender, being married or because of a gender reassignment. Examples of direct discrimination include those instances where an employee of one sex is being paid less than another for doing the same job. Other examples of direct discrimination are when a single person is offered promotion, rather than an equally qualified individual or dismissing a woman because she has said that she is pregnant or may want to start a family.
  • Indirect Discrimination is when an employee is disadvantaged because of certain working practices and rules. Examples of indirect discrimination include an employer’s refusal to recruit part-time workers without sufficient good reason or setting a minimum height which may discriminate against most women.
  • Harassment is defined as behaving in an offensive manner toward an employee or encouraging or permitting others to do so. Harassing behaviour includes making sexual remarks or gestures, permitting displays or distribution of sexually explicit material, or referring to an individual by a particular nickname because of their race or gender.
  • Victimisation is when an employee is treated unfairly because they have lodged a complaint about discrimination. Examples of victimisation include those scenarios where an employee is put at a disadvantage by being prevented from embarking on further training, having unfair disciplinary action taken against them, and/or being excluded from company social events.

Gender Discrimination at Work

Employers who do not address sex and gender discrimination in the workplace may themselves be discriminating unlawfully.

If you think you are experiencing gender discrimination at work, you should talk to your employer to try and resolve matters. If necessary, put your complaint in writing and ask to see their equal opportunities policy. An employee representative such as a trade union official may be able to offer support and you may need to make a complaint following your employer’s grievance procedure or apply to an Industrial Tribunal.

Need specialist advice on discrimination in the workplace?

Our Employment Law team at Bowcock & Pursaill can provide advice and guidance on the best course of action so that you can take the necessary next steps. Contact our experienced team to arrange a convenient COVID-secure appointment via telephone or email info@bowcockpursaill.co.uk to find out how we can provide clarity and direction to your circumstances.

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