The law protects all employees against discrimination at work.
The characteristics protected by the Equality Act 2010 are:
- Sexual orientation
- Gender reassignment
- Marital status
- Religion or belief
- Pregnancy and maternity
Discrimination can be one of the most complex types of employment cases. There are a number of different forms of discriminatory conduct:
- Direct discrimination – This happens when an individual is treated less favourably than a colleague because of a protected characteristic (e.g. someone is sacked because they are homosexual)
- Indirect discrimination – If an employer has a provision, criterion or practice which is applied across the organisation which puts those with a particular protected characteristic at a particular disadvantage to those who do not share that characteristic such practice could be deemed to be indirect discrimination (e.g. a practice where members of staff must work on a Saturday may prevent practicing Jews from observing the Sabbath)
- Harassment – Unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic which violates a person’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment (e.g. inappropriate comments or actions from a male member of staff towards a female member of staff (or vice versa) could be sexual harassment)
- Victimisation – This happens where a member of staff is treated badly or punished because they have made, or people think they have made, a complaint about discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 or have given evidence in a discrimination case
- Discrimination arising from a disability (disability discrimination only) – unfavourable treatment because of something arising in consequence of a person’s disability (e.g. someone who suffers from cancer, and has had a number of days absence because of their condition, is dismissed because of their absence record)
- Failure to make reasonable adjustments (disability discrimination only) – Employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace or workplace practices to help disabled employees to carry out their work (e.g. an employer may be required to provide specialist software to help a blind or partially sighted employee to work on a computer)
If you feel you have faced discrimination in the workplace then contact GA Solicitors’ specialist employment team by calling 01752 203500, emailing enquiries@GAsolicitors.com or by filling in our online contact form.