Discrimination & Equality

We know that discrimination in the workplace can be a difficult situation for an employee. Our highly regarded and experienced employment solicitors can help you make a complaint and claim compensation.

What Is Discrimination?

Discrimination is the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people based on their characteristics, perceived characteristics, or association with a person considered to fall into the category of those with a protected characteristic. The Equality Act 2010 list the characteristics which are protected by law. Discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably because of their:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marital status
  • Pregnancy or maternity

If a family member, friend or loved one holds a protected characteristic and you are treated unfavourably because of your association with them, you may have a claim for associative discrimination.

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 a person is treated less favourably where they have a protected characteristic such as gender or race. For example, a person is denied promotion due to their sexual orientation or because they are transgender, and a less qualified person is appointed to the role.

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 may be discrimination by association.

Indirect Discrimination

This is when there is a practice, policy or rule which applies to everyone in the same way, but it has a worse effect on some sections of society than others. People with a protected characteristic may find that they are adversely affected by the implementation of the rule. 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 to work a night shift or early morning shift as they tend to take on more child caring responsibilities than their male counterparts.

Victimisation

This is treating a person badly because they have done a ‘protected act’, or it is believed that a person has done or is going to do a protected act.

A ‘protected act’ is:

  • Making a claim or complaint of discrimination under the Equality Act
  • Helping or supporting a person to make a claim by giving evidence or information
  • Alleging that a person or organisation has breached the law.

Harassment

Harassment is unwanted behaviour which you find offensive or which makes you feel intimidated or humiliated. It can include where colleagues make offensive comments and can cause an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment. It can happen on its own or alongside other forms of discrimination. Unwanted behaviour could be spoken or written words or abuse.

What Can I Do if I Am Being Discriminated Against?

If you feel like you have been targeted because of a protected characteristic, 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.

If the conduct takes place at the workplace and where the discrimination has resulted in a situation where an informal resolution to the situation cannot be found, we can assist. We will provide advice and assistance in relation to a severance negotiating on your behalf should you wish to leave your current employer.

In the event a negotiated settlement cannot be achieved, and you feel like you must resign, we can assist with issuing proceedings for constructive dismissal at the employment tribunal.

Equal Pay

The Equality Act 2010 was designed to ensure that people get the same pay for the same work, regardless of their gender. If you believe you get paid less than a current or former colleague of the opposite sex and you are doing the same or a comparable job, we can assist you with making a claim for equal pay against your employer. Time limits are strictly upheld in the Employment Tribunal therefore it is imperative that you seek early legal advice.

We understand the importance of preserving the best possible relationship with your employer. To ensure this continues, our initial approach is to remind your employer of their responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 which is usually enough to resolve the pay gap. However, if there is an obvious case of pay inequality that is based on gender, we can proceed to an employment tribunal.

Our friendly and experienced employment team can guide you through your rights to equal pay and advise on the steps to ensure you receive the pay you deserve.


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