Discrimination in the workplace

What is discrimination in the workplace?

Discrimination in the workplace is defined as the different treatment of an employee on the basis of one of their personal characteristics.

In law, all employees are entitled to be treated equally at work. If you have been treated differently because of one or more of your personal characteristics (called ‘protected characteristics’ and outlined below), or if you are an employer who has been accused of discrimination, Aly & Hulme Associates employment lawyers can help. We have extensive experience assisting both employees and employers in all manner of contentious and non-contentious employment law matters, including workplace discrimination.

What are the ‘protected characteristics’ under employment law?

Protected characteristics are listed in the Equality Act 2010 and are as follows:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender identity and gender reassignment
  • Marriage or civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and Maternity
  • Race
  • Religion and Belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Protection against discrimination on the basis of these characteristics extends to your family members – what this means is that you cannot be treated differently if, for instance, a family member is disabled.

    Your employment status is also a protected characteristic – your employer cannot treat you differently because you are part-time or work flexibly, for instance.

    What is workplace discrimination?

    In most cases, discrimination in the workplace occurs when an employee is treated differently based on a protected personal characteristic or trait. Different treatment includes things like allowing the observance of one religious practice and not another, or to only have childless people working in certain roles. An extreme example is only allowing people of a particular ethnicity to enjoy certain roles or responsibilities

    Discrimination of this type is known as ‘direct discrimination’. There are also three other types of discrimination:

  • Indirect discrimination – this is often less obvious and is very often unintentional. It covers situations where people with a protected characteristic are put at a disadvantage because of a workplace policy or practice. For example, having an unduly lengthy minimum period of experience in a job advertisement can discriminate against younger candidates
  • Harassment – this occurs is where an employee’s dignity is violated, or they are put in an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment because of another person’s unwanted conduct. This is often sexual in nature but can relate to a protected characteristic.
  • Victimisation – this occurs where an employee is subject to detrimental treatment because they have made an allegation under the Equality Act.
  • How can I make a discrimination claim?

    If you, as an employee believe you have been discriminated against because of, or in relation to, a protected characteristic and you can’t resolve the issue with their employer, you can make a discrimination claim in an employment tribunal. A claim can be made against the co-workers you hold responsible as well as your employer.

    In respect of discrimination claims made in an employment tribunal, your employer does not have to have been involved in the alleged discriminatory act – they are automatically held accountable for the illegal acts of their staff’ illegal, provided these acts happen in the occurs of the staff’s employment. This is known as ‘vicarious liability’ i.e. the employer is ‘vicariously liable’ for the acts of their staff member.

    The employer can only escape liability if they are able to demonstrate that they took all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination in their workplace. These steps can include things such as having equality policies and procedures in place and providing diversity & equality training.

    What is the time limit for making a discrimination claim?

    Importantly, discrimination claims are subject to deadlines. You only have three months since the most recent act of discrimination to act. Which means you should contact Aly & Hulme Associates as quickly as you can.

    What evidence is needed to make a discrimination claim?

    You must support your discrimination claim discrimination with evidence. This is usually in the form of a statement detailing your allegations of discrimination, witness statements from your colleagues or other people who can vouch that the discrimination occurred and any other documentary evidence such as letters or e-mails.

    Cases of discrimination in the workplace are rarely straightforward. Any story has at least two of sides and the chances of your success hinge on the consistency, believability and reliability of your evidence. Not just that, but how the claim is argued in the tribunal can make an enormous difference. It is therefore of vital importance to get specialist employment law advice from when making or defending against a discrimination claim.

    Why Choose Aly & Hulme Associates?

    Modern life is hectic. We know you’re busy. we know your hours are often awkward and we know you have enough on your plate. That’s why our founding principle is to help you deal with your legal needs quickly, efficiently and effectively.

    We specialise in dispute resolution and whilst both partners have appeared in Court on thousands of occasions we will strive hard to avoid litigation wherever possible to provide you with a robust and cost-effective service.

  • We are approachable, professional and commercially minded.
  • We cover the South East and North West and will meet you at your convenience.
  • We have policies and procedures to ensure your matter is always taken care of.
  • We will always put your needs first and do our utmost to protect and further your best interests.
  • We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and fully insured for your protection.
  • Contact our Employment Solicitors in Manchester Today

    To set an appointment with one of our solicitors, you can call us on 0330 133 0684 or email us at info@aha-law.co.uk or click the contact button below.

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