Discrimination in the workplace

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    Discrimination in the workplace

    So many people suffer the effects of workplace discrimination in silence. You don’t have to be one of them. 

    When you go to work, there are certain things you should be able to take for granted. The most obvious, of course, is that you’ll receive a wage in return for the work you do. Additionally, however, lies expectations that the environment in which you work is safe and that you should be treated respectfully and free from discrimination at all times. You should never be indirectly or directly discriminated against based on gender, age, physical ability or race.

    Indeed, these rights are considered vital. They’re enshrined in law in the form of the 2010 Equality Act, which acts as an umbrella act for all legislation regarding the protection of employees, regardless of their age, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion.

    These laws and how they can be applied to discrimination in the workplace mean that anyone who feels they have been treated less than fairly may well be in a position to seek compensation.

    As The Equality Act 2010 is one of the pieces of legislation that states every worker is entitled to perform their job without harassment, discrimination, or victimisation, you can raise a discrimination claim if you feel you’re not being protected.

    If you feel you have a case, please read on to find out what you can do, or reach out to us, and we’ll explain the whole process for compensation. 

      What Does The 2010 Equality Act Cover?

      The following describes the Equality Act and how it protects you from discrimination. It was implemented to merge different legislation, making it easier for employers to adhere to the regulations. Everyone living in the UK is covered under the act and its characteristics.

      Let’s take a look at them.

      Gender Discrimination

      Gender discrimination is covered under the Equality Act, and it doesn’t have to be direct, as many forms of discrimination are often indirect. While the assumption, and often the reality, is that women require more protection from discrimination than men, the laws are framed to be applied equally to both. This should be borne in mind when reading this summary.

      Discrimination can broadly be divided into two main types – Direct and Indirect. Direct discrimination consists of situations such as those when an experienced woman is passed over for a job favouring a less experienced man purely on gender. Indirect discrimination is slightly less prominent but covers situations such as a man or woman being expected to work outside their actual capabilities to fit in with the working practices of other, oppositely gendered staff.

      To summarise, the Equality Act prohibits the following:

      • Discrimination against a person on the grounds of their sex.
      • Discrimination against a person because they are married or have a civil partner.
      • Discrimination against a person who has had or intends to have gender reassignment.
      • Discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy or maternity leave.
      • Harassment is sexual or related to a person’s gender.

      Although the act deals with gender and therefore doesn’t specifically mention discrimination based upon a person’s sexual orientation, there are still circumstances relating to such discrimination which may make it possible for the act to be called upon.

      If you feel you have a basis for making a claim, get in touch with an experienced solicitor. They will note the details of your case and give an honest opinion as to whether the legislation means you can successfully pursue compensation.

      Gender Identity

      The 2010 act also ensures transgender individuals are protected, which means employers cannot fire someone who identifies as transgender – regardless of whether they have surgery.

      While this law covers most employment types, there are some exceptions, including:

      • Certain Sports – Some sporting events might exclude a transgender person to ensure fair competition. Event organisers and teams will have to prove that it’s to ensure equality for the other members.
      • Single Gender Services – For example, health and social care roles restrict females to working with other females and vice versa.

      Racial Discrimination

      The Equality Act states that nobody should be discriminated against because of their race or ethnic origin. The definitions of discrimination used are similar to those employed when drawing up other discrimination cases, i.e.:

      • Direct discrimination, such as refusing to hire a person on the grounds of race.
      • Indirect discrimination, such as enforcing dress codes that clash with a person’s religious beliefs.
      • Harassment along the lines of allowing racially offensive conversation in the workplace.
      • A person being victimised on the grounds of their race or following previous complaints around racial issues.

      Issues regarding race and racial discrimination are often contentious and difficult to pin down. It may be, for example, that a white British person feels they have been discriminated against precisely because they represent part of the workforce majority. If you think you may have been racially discriminated against at work, you should relate the details of your case to an expert solicitor. They will use their knowledge and experience to decide whether you’re in a position to make a claim, and – if you are – they’ll help construct your claim.


      There are some exceptions to the rule, but these only occur in exceptional circumstances:

      • Support Workers – Anyone that requires a support worker has the right to choose who helps them manage daily activities. For example, an African client might specify they only want a support worker from the same cultural background as themselves.
      • Employment Schemes – Sometimes, businesses recruit someone of a particular background because they’re under-represented in the industry.

      Religion/Belief Discrimination

      Everyone is covered by The Equality Act (2010) regardless of their religion – or lack of one. You have complete protection from:

      • Discrimination if you have a particular religion.

      • People discriminating against your philosophical beliefs.

      • Some assume you’re religious because of your cultural background.

      • People discriminating against you because you aren’t religious

      Philosophical beliefs are valid beliefs that apply to human life or behaviour. For example, a vegan environmentalist has a philosophical belief that others should respect.

      Of course, the exception to the rule is when those ‘beliefs’ hurt others (such as white supremacy or homophobia).

      Age Discrimination

      In some cases, a company has every right to hire someone of their preferred age. For example, a nightclub can only hire people over 18, so refusing to employ someone younger wouldn’t be considered age discrimination.

      However, some companies exclude people or mistreat them due to their age, and knowing your rights could save you from unfair treatment. Under the act, it is unlawful to use a person’s age as the grounds for doing any of the following:

      • Refusing a person’s employment (unless legalities apply)

      • Terminating employment on the grounds of age (outside of retirement).

      • Refusing to provide training due to being ‘too old.’

      • Deny an employee the chance to secure a promotion.

      • Insert unfair terms and conditions into a contract.

      When considering these laws, people tend to focus on older people being discriminated against. However, the rules are equally applicable in the case of younger people who feel they have been unfairly treated because they were deemed to lack gravitas or experience.

      If you feel you may have experienced either end of this spectrum, then waste no time getting in touch with an experienced solicitor. They’ll be able to take the details of your case and place them in the context of the law, thus explaining whether you have a good chance of securing compensation and the mechanics involved.

      Disability Discrimination

      Disability discrimination usually occurs when a person is refused the same treatment as others due to their disability. Unfortunately, many people with disabilities do suffer discrimination in the workplace, but the Equality Act is there to ensure anyone with a physical or mental disability has protection.

      • Employment: A disabled person cannot be refused employment on the grounds of their disability unless that disability stops them from performing the job.

      • Education: The act’s parts that cover education apply to both children and adults. In both cases, the act seeks to ensure disabled people get the same access to educational opportunities as the non-disabled.

      • Education: This extends to the rights of disabled children to the same level of education as non-disabled children and to disabled adults wishing to further their education.

      • Access: The act seeks to ensure disabled people are granted full access to goods, facilities and services such as stores, banks, cinemas, churches and public transport.

      The disabilities in question can be physical and/or mental. While great strides have been made in recent years, negligence and discrimination can still occur, and when they do, it’s only right to pursue compensation to make up for your distress and any lost earnings.

      What To Do When Your Employer Breaches the Equality Act

      Discrimination at work can be difficult for anyone to handle, and, understandably, you might be disheartened. As discrimination can take effect in many ways, it’s crucial to consider who discriminates against you and then raise a complaint with your employer.

      There are many forms of discrimination, and it can come from a person of the same or opposite sex to yourself. While it’s difficult to take the steps outlined by the guidelines your place of work has, it’s essential to step forward, as many employers are aware of discrimination issues and will take steps to resolve the problems.

      What If My Employer Dismisses My Complaint?

      Unless your line manager or employer instigates the discriminatory remarks, you should always go to them with any complaints first. While some people might feel comfortable having an informal discussion with their boss, you can also raise a formal complaint detailing where you think you have been mistreated.

      Discrimination can take many forms, but some common complaints include:

      • A pregnant employee is treated differently
      • A person being sexually harassed
      • Working in an offensive environment
      • Managers failing to take reasonable steps to accommodate a disability
      • Female employees make less money than male employees for the same job role
      • Workplace bullying

      For many people, raising the issue with their employer or HR department is enough to resolve the issue, but if your company dismisses your claim and you feel you have a case, then it’s your right to take legal action.

      Getting compensation for Workplace Discrimination Claims

      Reading through these various laws, it’s apparent that you don’t have to be employed by a person or business to suffer discrimination in the workplace since choosing not to give you a job can, in some circumstances, be an example of discrimination.

      If you’ve been treated in this manner, then it’s only fair that you should be able to seek compensation for any earnings you may have lost and help counter the unfair treatment you’ve received. No amount of money can truly make up for this kind of disgraceful treatment, but it can play a part in helping to restore your faith in fairness and justice.

      The key to winning such a claim lies in putting together a case that convincingly portrays the thought processes of the employer in question. Doing this requires skill, experience and in-depth knowledge of the appropriate legislation. It’s vital, therefore, that those who feel discriminated against retain the services of a professional solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity.

      The Workplace Discrimination Claim Process

      If you take action against your employer, your legal advisor will collect evidence and serve as a communication point between you and your employer. An employer might want to settle a claim in some cases because it’s easier than going to county court and saves time.

      However, if your employer or human resources department refuses to settle, you’ll move forward with a tribunal claim. Employment tribunals will hear both sides of the case before deciding on which party is right – but winning your claim depends on the evidence you put forward.

      Your compensation award will depend on the offences and how likely you will get another job. For example, if you’ve experienced sexual harassment or are the victim of a crime of a sexual nature, your award might be higher because of the injury to feelings clause.

      Would You Like Some Free Advice?

      Going through workplace discrimination can dent your confidence. Some people even need counselling to move through their feelings of hurt and the lost confidence this discrimination often causes. We’re always here to explain how the compensation process works and can also refer you to one of our no win no fee partners, so you can get the compensation you deserve.

      Please feel free to call us today on 0800 234 6438.

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