It is unlawful for you to be discriminated against in the workplace by your employer or by your colleagues because of a ‘protected characteristic’.
The protected characteristics as stated in the Equality Act 2010 are:
- sexual orientation
- marriage/civil partnership
- gender reassignment
Unlawful discrimination arises when you are treated less favourably than someone else because of a protected characteristic. In the employment context, the discrimination may arise from a dismissal or another detrimental action, such as not promoting you, disciplining you without justification or carrying out acts of bullying or harassment.
A claim must be entered within three months less one day from the date on which the act of discrimination took place
You must be able to show that you have suffered a disadvantage and that the characteristic is the reason why you have been treated less favourably. You should raise a grievance about your treatment to give the employer the chance to address the problems.
You don’t need a qualifying length of service to bring a discrimination claim and don’t need to be an employee, and can even be protected during the recruitment stage. Where appropriate, you can bring a claim even if you are still employed and if there is an internal grievance process going on at the time.
Indirect discrimination is where an employer has an apparently neutral policy which, in practice, has a negative impact on a particular group of employees who share a protected characteristic. For example, a requirement that employees work full time as opposed to part time may indirectly discriminate against women.
‘Disability’ can be a physical or mental impairment, and whether or not you are disabled for the purposes of an employment claim is often a complex issue of law. If you receive disability benefits, or have a blue badge for your car, that may not be enough on its own to show you are disabled for the purposes of a disability discrimination claim.
A disability is a physical or mental impairment, which has a substantial and long term adverse effect (at least 12 months), on a person's ability to carry out normal day to day activities (not just their job).
There is a duty on an employer to make reasonable adjustments to the job or the workplace for disabled workers where possible on request. These vary tremendously but can be simple things such as getting you a different chair or having flexible working times for medical appointments.
Trade Union Activity
Protection also exists for people who are treated less favourably or suffer a detriment due to their trade union activity. This can be an important form of protection for our members.
It can be worrying to bring a claim against your employer whilst you are still employed, and some people are nervous about doing so because they believe they will be treated differently by their employer or colleagues. This treatment is known as ‘victimisation’. However, there is further legal protection if you are treated less favourably because you have brought a claim or you have tried to protect your legal rights while your employment is continuing. If you are concerned you are being victimised, then it can give rise to a further claim against your employer to ensure you are not punished by them for standing up for your rights.
If you believe you have been discriminated against at work then contact one of the experienced team of specialist lawyers at Simpsons Solicitors as soon as possible.