Discrimination

Being discriminated against can make you feel intimidated, degraded, angry and worthless. Discrimination is a serious issue in the employment environment.

Discrimination can arise in a number of different ways, for example:

  • Stereotyping
  • Making assumptions about people’s abilities or how they will act
  • Cultural ignorance
  • Harassment or bullying
  • Treating people with contempt or prejudice

There are, broadly-speaking, five recognised forms of discrimination. These are now consolidated in the Equality Act 2010. For a brief introduction to each form of discrimination, read our guide below.

Bringing a claim for compensation

If you have been discriminated against by your employer, you may be entitled to compensation. Often discrimination claims are brought because someone has lost their job, in which case there can be a crossover with Unfair Dismissal or Constructive Dismissal.

Bringing a claim for discrimination can be daunting. The law is complex and sometimes it can seem that everything is stacked against you. This is often because discrimination can come about because of prejudices that people will not even admit to themselves, let alone to an Employment Tribunal.

Our specialist team of employment solicitors are experts in getting you the compensation you deserve. When you have been discriminated against, you want the best advocates fighting your corner.

Paying for a solicitor

The general rule in an employment tribunal is that each side pays their own legal fees regardless of whether they win or lose. There are exceptions but cost orders are rare.

If you are worried about legal fees then talk things through with us using our free no-obligation callback facility. We will not charge you to assess the strength of your claim.

You may already have insurance cover for legal costs. Legal expenses insurance is often tagged on to home insurance. If you do not have insurance cover, we may be prepared to take claims on a 'no-win-no-fee' basis.

Discrimination guide

Broadly speaking, there are five forms of discrimination. These are now consolidated in the Equality Act 2010. For there to be discrimination, it has to be on the grounds of some personal characteristic (known as a protected characteristic). The protected characteristics are:

  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion and belief
  • Race, colour or nationality
  • Disability
  • Age
  • Gender re-assignment
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Marriage or civil partnership
  • Because you are employed under either a part time or fixed term contract

Direct discrimination

Direct discrimination occurs when one person treats another less favourably than he would teat someone else without the protected characteristic because of the protected characteristic.

Direct discrimination cannot be justified.

For example, an employer refuses to employ a woman because she is a woman.

Indirect discrimination

Indirect discrimination occurs when an employer has some policy that affects people with a protected characteristic disadvantageously more than people without the protected characteristic.

In certain circumstances, indirect discrimination can be justified.

For example, an employer decides that it will only employ staff who are taller than 5’9’’. This affects women more than men.

Disability discrimination

Disability discrimination can be a form of direct or indirect discrimination. Disability discrimination also occurs where an employer treats a worker unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of a disability.

In certain circumstances, disability discrimination can be justified.

For example, an employer sacks a disabled worker because he cannot complete tasks as quickly as other members of staff.

Failure to make reasonable adjustments

Disabled workers have additional rights and protections. One of these is the right to insist that an employer makes reasonable adjustments to accommodate a disadvantage caused by a disability.

For example, a dyslexic worker claims that she needs more time to complete written work. It would be reasonable to change the working practices to provide more time.

Harassment

Harassment occurs when one person does or says something to another person that is unwanted on the grounds of a protected characteristic and causes that person to be intimidated or degraded or otherwise upset.

Unwanted conduct can come in the form of nasty, hurtful or sexual comments or it can be more subtle. It can occur inside or outside of work and can have profound effects on the victim.

For more information, see our section on Harassment.

Victimisation

Victimisation occurs when a person makes a complaint that some other form of discrimination has taken place, or supports another person making such a complaint, and an employer subjects that person to some disadvantage or other detriment.

For example, a worker complains that she is being sexually harassed but rather than investigate her employer changes her hours and work to “move her out of the way”

For further information, please contact one of our specialists in the Employment Team, complete our online enquiry form or call our client care team who will be pleased to help you.