Discrimination in the Workplace 2021

Discrimination in the workplace is still a huge problem for many employees.

June marks Pride Month and the celebration of the LGBTQIA+ communities. Although awareness and support are growing, there is still a long way to go. Our Employment team looks at employment discrimination and ways that businesses can ensure that their company is safe and welcoming to all.

Types of Discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 recognises four main types of discriminatory behaviour that can lead to a claim at an employment tribunal:

Direct Discrimination

This is when someone is treated unfairly because of a protected characteristic such as gender or race. For example, someone is not offered a promotion because they are transgender, and the job goes to a less qualified person.

Another type of direct discrimination is when someone is treated unfairly because of the protected characteristic of a friend or someone they are associated with. For example, if an employee’s close friend has gender reassignment surgery and then colleagues stop inviting the employee to social events. This is discrimination by association.

Indirect Discrimination

This is when there are rules or arrangements that are applied to all employees but are less fair to those with certain protected characteristics. The employee must be able to prove that:

  • It’s unfair to them and others with the same protected characteristic
  • It’s unfair compared with those who do not have the protected characteristic, for example, it’s unfair to women but not to men


This is where you suffer from detrimental treatment because you have made a complaint in the workplace about previous discriminatory behaviours.


This is where colleagues make offensive comments and can cause an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.

What can I do if I am being discriminated against?

If you feel like you have been targeted because of your sexual orientation or identity, then you may have an employment claim under the Equality Act 2010. This can be a complex area of law and engaging the services of a solicitor will ensure that you have the expert skill and knowledge to pursue a claim against your employer and recover the compensation that you deserve.

In the first instance, we can assist you with writing a formal complaint, known as a grievance to your manager or the Head of HR.

Where the discrimination has been too serious to allow for an amicable solution, we can negotiate a favourable severance package should you wish to leave your current employer.

Where you feel like you must resign, we can assist with issuing proceedings for constructive dismissal at employment tribunals.

If you would like to speak to a member of the Spire Employment team about equality and discrimination in the workplace, the steps a business can take to build a gender-equal workplace, or if you would like to discuss any points in this article, please contact us on 01603 677077.

Further articles around workplace wellbeing:

Focus on Mental Health Day 2020

Recognising the Gender Agenda for Trans Staff