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Discrimination At Work

Have you been treated badly at work because of your age, race or gender? Does the action taken by your employer, or staff under their control, amount to Discrimination? If it does, what can you do about it? Can you make a claim for Discrimination at work, how much will it cost to do so, and what compensation can you expect to receive if you do make a claim?

1stClaims are here to answer these questions and provide the information you need.

Discrimination in the workplace, unfortunately, still takes place on a fairly regular basis and it can be very traumatic for the victim. You will want to know what actually constitutes discrimination, the different types of discrimination and how to sue for discrimination if you feel that you have been victimised in this way.

Your employer has a responsibility to make sure that they do not discriminate against you or anyone else whilst they are at work and to also ensure that any discrimination that happens at work is dealt with as soon as possible. If you or someone in your family is being discriminated you can do something about it, don’t just put up with it. You should speak to a specialist discrimination solicitor and get advice about what you can do it stop it.

Types of Discrimination

Discrimination occurs when an employee is treated differently – usually less favourably – to their colleagues – because of their particular sex, age, race, religion, sexual orientation, cultural beliefs, marital status, their part-time working hours or because they are a contractor.

There are four types of discrimination – direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

Direct discrimination occurs when an employee is treated less favourably for one of the reasons stated above. For example, if an employee is not put forward for promotion because of their sex or their age then they may be able to pursue a successful case against their employer for direct discrimination.
Indirect discrimination occurs when a specific rule or working condition means that an entire group of people are discriminated against, intentionally or otherwise. For example, if a new role within the company is advertised which prohibits single people from applying then this may amount to indirect discrimination against the single employees within the company.

What Is Discrimination At Work?

All employees are protected by law against suffering from discrimination whilst at work, but it can be difficult to actually understand what discrimination actually is and how the law is applied.

Discrimination at work is when you are treated unfairly because of who you are, what you believe, or your lifestyle choices. These are defined in law as protected characteristics and these are:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Maternity issues – being pregnant or having a child
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Being married or being in a civil partnership
  • Being a transsexual
  • Having a disability

These are just a few examples of actions by your employer that can amount to Discrimination At Work. Our specialist employment law solicitors will listen to your own circumstances and advise you whether they might amount to Discrimination, and how you can claim compensation and how much you might receive.

If you, as an employee, are connected with someone who has a protected characteristic, you are also protected by the laws against discrimination. For example, if you have a disabled child, your employer must make sure that you are not treated unfairly as a result.

Although there are laws in place to stop discrimination happening at work, unfortunately it still does, and people who have protected characteristics are held at a disadvantage from everyone else. The laws around discrimination also incorporate victimisation and harassment too.

Here are some common examples of discrimination at work:

  • Being dismissed because you have a protected characteristic
  • Being given poorer employment terms or contract because you have a protected characteristic
  • Being given worse benefits and pay due to protected characteristics
  • Not being given a promotion or transfer due to a protected characteristic
  • Being made redundant
  • Not being given a job, even though you have the skills to do it

Sexual Discrimination At Work

Am I Suffering From Sexual Discrimination?

If you feel like your employer is treating you differently to other employees because of your gender, you will be feeling angry, upset and let down. You may not know that it is against the law for your employer to discriminate against you due to your sex, or in fact any personal characteristic. This legislation is included in the Equality Act 2010.

So what can you do? If you do think that you are being treated unfairly there are a number of steps you can take, but you should act on this as soon as possible because the law is on your side.

First of all you should speak to your colleagues to understand how your treatment differs from others. They may be getting development or training that you are not, they may be paid more than you even though you are doing the same job, or you may not have been promoted even though you were capable. If they agree with you that you have been treated or are being treated unfairly you may want to ask them if they are willing to speak up for you as this will strengthen your case.

You might decide that you want to speak to the person who you think is discriminating against you to ask them to stop, but if you do not want to do this, or the person does not stop, you should raise a grievance with your manager. You can do this by writing a letter to explain your reasons for the grievance and outlining your unfair treatment. If your manager is the one who is treating you unfairly, you will need to take your grievance higher. Hopefully this action will mean that your employer will act and put right your unfair treatment.

If your employer does not act following the grievance you have raised, it is time for you to make the complaint about discrimination official and if this is not acted on either, you should now seek advice from a specialist employment solicitor and look to take your case to an employment tribunal.

If you do decide to take your case to an employment tribunal and you win, you will be paid compensation because of your unfair treatment and your employer will have to take steps to ensure that you or anyone else in the business does not suffer from sexual discrimination going forward.

If you have been dismissed unfairly due to your gender or had to leave your job because of your unfair treatment, which is known as constructive dismissal, you may be able to make a claim at an employment tribunal but you should seek advice as quickly as possible because there are limits on the amount of time that you have to make a claim.

Harassment at Work

Harassment is offensive behaviour and unwanted conduct and can be related to age, race, religion, sex, disability, sexual orientation or nationality. Harassment in the workplace is unlawful and can result in a tribunal, often with a large amount of damages being paid out to the victim.

Harassment can take the form of face-to-face conduct, email, letter, telephone or text message. It can be an isolated incident or a continuous episode of unacceptable and offensive behaviour towards an individual or a group of individuals.

How to Sue for Discrimination or Harassment at Work

If you believe that you have been the victim of discrimination or harassment you should firstly try to resolve the matter internally by talking things through with your supervisor, HR department or line manager. You should refer to your employment contract for your company’s policy on harassment/discrimination and grievances and follow the steps laid out to see if the matter can be resolved without having to commence legal proceedings. If you are a member of a trade union you could seek advice and guidance from your union representative.

If you have tried all you can to sort the matter out internally and still feel that you are the victim of harassment you should contact an expert employment lawyer who specialises in discrimination and harassment and will give you advice and guidance on how to sue for discrimination.

Making sure you choose the right solicitor for your case is vital. You should do your research and ensure that the solicitor you choose has plenty of experience is dealing with claims similar to your own. You should provide your solicitor with as much information as you can about your grievance including any evidence you have to show that the discrimination has taken place. If the matter still cannot be resolved by your solicitor communicating with your employer, or their legal representative, then the matter may be taken to an employment tribunal.

Let Us Help Now

1stClaims can help you if you think you have been the victim of discrimination or harassment in the workplace. Call us free on 0800 2888 693 or complete our online enquiry form here for a free, no obligation consultation.


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  3. Costs - whether you will qualify for a no win no fee claim or details of other methods for funding your claim; and
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