Employment Law Services — Employees
Discrimination at work
If you think you may have been discriminated against by your employer (past, current or future) then we can help you analyse where the discrimination has occurred and what your options are to deal with it.
The Equality Act 2010 is concerned with discrimination and harassment in relation to any of the following "protected characteristics":
- Gender reassignment.
- Marriage and civil partnership.
- Pregnancy and maternity.
- Race (colour/nationality/ethnic origin)
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
There are various types of discrimination and other unlawful conduct set out in the Equality Act 2010 that apply to most (and in some cases all) of the protected characteristics:
- Direct discrimination
- Indirect discrimination
- Instructing, causing, inducing and aiding discrimination
The are important differences between ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ discrimination. Direct discrimination occurs when an employer discriminates against someone directly because of a protected characteristic. An easy example would be dismissing a woman because she is pregnant.
Indirect Discrimination is more subtle and involves a practice of an employer that may seem on the face of it gender neutral but which disadvantages certain employees more than others. An example here would be requiring all employees to work full time. Proportionally less women than men could be able to comply with this requirement as they tend to shoulder more child care responsibilities. As such the employers requirement for full time working could indirectly dsicriminate against women.
The default retirement age of 65 years has been abolished a few months ago. Employers must now be able to justify having any fixed retirement age.
The law in this area is complicated and there are strict time limits for bringing a claim against an employer against who a claim of discrimination is made (three months from the act or omission complained of).
The Equality Act also protects job applicants and former employees and the definition of ‘employee’ under the Equality Act is wide and can include 'partners', ‘workers’ and ‘agency workers’.