Discrimination in the workplace is a serious issue. It can undermine morale, harm productivity and, if not nipped in the bud, lead to expensive and troublesome legal action. If you are an employee who feels discriminated against, or are an employer facing issues regarding discrimination in the workplace, our employment law solicitors can help.
‘Discrimination’ is, as the name suggests, the treating of one employee differently on the basis of some personal characteristic they possess.
The law relating to discrimination in the workplace is found in the Equality Act 2010 which lists certain “Protected Characteristics”.
Protected Characteristics and Discrimination
These characteristics are:
- Age (in employment, further and higher education only)
- Gender Identity and Gender Reassignment
- Marriage or Civil Partnership (in Employment only)
- Pregnancy and Maternity
- Religion or Belief
- Sexual Orientation
Discrimination occurs when individuals or groups are treated differently based on the above. Allowing the observance of one religious practice and not another, or conferring benefits only on those who are of a certain gender are examples of discrimination in the workplace.
Interestingly, the protection of these characteristics extends to family members – if you are treated differently because a member of your family is disabled or pursues a certain religious belief, then this can amount to discrimination.
As well as the above characteristics, it is unlawful for employers to treat workers differently based on their employment status. So, part-time and contract workers are entitled to the same treatment as permanent, full-time staff.
Direct and Indirect Discrimination
Discrimination falls into two distinct categories: Direct and Indirect.
Direct discrimination is the different treatment of an employee based on a personal characteristic.
Indirect discrimination is the different treatment of a group without justifiable reason. What is justifiable depends on the type of business – the reason is only justifiable if it is necessary for the operation of the business. For instance, imposing a dress code for hygiene reasons may exclude those who observe certain religious practices. If this is an insuperable obstacle to their employment BUT a necessary feature of the job or role, then ‘discrimination’ is, in this case, justified.
Discrimination Time Limit
Employees have a period of 3 months from the most recent instance of discrimination to raise an action against their employer.
Our employment lawyers are experienced with a wide range of employment law claims, including discrimination in the workplace, on behalf of both employees and employers. If you feel you have been treated unfairly, or you are an employer worried about discrimination issues, contact Lewis Nedas Law today call us on 02073872032, complete our online enquiry form