Discrimination at work claim solicitors

If you believe you have been received unfair treatment at work because of a protected characteristic, our discrimination solicitors can help

Need help with a discrimination claim?

What is discrimination at work?

Discrimination occurs when a person is treated unfavourably at work because of a protected characteristic. This could be by anyone who they encounter in the workplace, including their manager, a colleague or even someone who doesn’t work for the same employer such as a supplier or customer.

Discrimination can take many forms, meaning it can sometimes be difficult for people to determine whether they have been subject to discrimination in the workplace.

According to the law in England and Wales, it's unlawful to treat employees (or potential employees) unfairly at work because of a protected characteristic.

What is a protected characteristic?

Under the Equality Act 2010, it is against the law to discriminate against a person on the basis of certain characteristics. These are called protected characteristics.

You can claim for discrimination at work for the following protected characteristics:

The law outlines certain aspects of employment where discrimination is prohibited based on an employee’s protected characteristics. These include: recruitment, training, terms and conditions of employment, pay and benefits, promotion and transfer opportunities, redundancy and dismissal.

Under the Equality Act, protection against discrimination applies to people at work as well as consumers, those in education, those using public services, those buying or renting property and members or guests of a private club or association.

Discrimination solicitors

If you believe you have been received unfair treatment at work because of a protected characteristic, you may have been a victim of discrimination at work.

In these types of work discrimination cases the victim needs to prove that they have been discriminated against if they have been treated unfairly at work because of their protected characteristic.

Our discrimination solicitors understand how difficult it can be to prove discrimination at work, and we are here to help you. We also appreciate how distressing employment discrimination claims can be.

We only represent employees (not employers) and we always work to make the discrimination claims process as stress free as possible.

I found you to be clear and kind, you took the time to listen to my story and showed empathy. Thanks again - I hope I shall never find myself in need of your services in future! If I do, I won't hesitate to come back.

Funding your employment law claim

We provide fixed fee employment law services. We can provide a 1 hour consultation with an employment solicitor for £240 (including VAT) or a comprehensive claims report for £450 (including VAT).

We also offer hourly rate services for more complex employment claims and funding through legal expenses insurance (LEI).

Find out more about our fees and how to fund your employment law claim.

What’s the difference between direct and indirect discrimination at work?

Direct discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably in the workplace because of a protected characteristic. Indirect discrimination occurs when a workplace policy or procedure applies to everybody, but it puts those who have a protected characteristic at a disadvantage.

Direct discrimination

When an individual is treated less favourably at work because of one (or more) of the protected characteristics listed above, this is direct discrimination. Examples of direct discrimination might include dismissal, refusal to employ someone, refusal to promote someone, or withholding benefits or training from them.

This could be in the form of a pregnant employee being denied a promotion because of her pregnancy, for example, or a disabled candidate being overlooked for a role because of their disability.

Interestingly, the individual in question does not necessarily have to have the protected characteristic in order to be the victim of direct discrimination. They could be treated less favourably because their family member, friend or associate has a protected characteristic - this is direct discrimination by association. Or they could be treated less favourably because they are perceived to have a certain protected characteristic, even if they don't - this is direct discrimination by perception.

Indirect discrimination

If an employer has certain practices, procedures, rules or processes that put people with a protected characteristic at a disadvantage then this is indirect discrimination. The key difference here is that the employees who are at a disadvantage because of their protected characteristic are not being singled out by their employer, they are simply subject to the same rules as everyone else. However, because of their protected characteristic, the rules put them at a disadvantage compared with their co-workers.

Indirect discrimination can occur as a result of formal processes or as a result of one-off, informal arrangements, but the main factor is that the practices, procedures, rules or processes must apply to everyone in the same way. If a rule or policy only applies to some of the workforce based on their shared protected characteristic, then this could be direct discrimination, rather than indirect discrimination.

Any example of indirect discrimination could be a contract clause which applies to all employees saying that they could be required to work late or travel away from home for work at short notice. Although this applies to everyone in the same way, this could potentially put a young mother at a disadvantage, as she would need to make childcare arrangements. This could be seen to be indirect discrimination on the basis of her gender.

Another example of indirect discrimination could be insisting that all employees work on a certain date, which is a religious holiday. Although this rule applies to everyone, it disadvantages certain employees because of their religion while other employees who do not practice that religion will not be at a disadvantage.

Objective justification for indirect discrimination

In certain circumstances, indirect discrimination may not be unlawful if an employer can demonstrate that there is an 'objective justification' for the rule, process or procedure in question.

The employer will be required to show that the rule, process or procedure in question is necessary to achieve a certain aim, the benefits of which outweigh the discriminatory impact. They will also need to demonstrate that there would be no other way of achieving this same aim in a way that did not indirectly discriminate certain employees.

While costs and economic benefits to the business could be taken into consideration, cost alone is unlikely to be sufficient as a justification for indirect discrimination.

Victimisation in the workplace

Discrimination and victimisation in the workplace are closely linked, but they are not the same thing.

Victimisation occurs when someone is treated unfairly at work because they have previously made a complaint about discrimination, or because they've supported someone who has. Victimisation is against the law, and this is set out in the Equality Act 2010.

This means that workers can make a workplace discrimination claim without fear of being treated any differently as a result.

If someone makes a complaint about discrimination, or supports someone else who makes a complaint (or is expected to make a complaint) then it's also against the law to treat them differently because of this. If they are treated detrimentally because of this, then this is called victimisation.

Victimisation can come in many forms. It may be a manager refusing to put an employee forward for a training opportunity, it could come in the form of bullying by colleagues, or it could be being ostracised or singled out by others in the workplace.

For example, if a member of staff makes a complaint about sexual harassment and is then dismissed because of this complaint, the dismissal may amount to victimisation. In addition, if one of their colleagues gave evidence in support of the complaint and was then refused a promotion as a result, then the refusal of promotion would also amount to victimisation, even though the colleague wasn't the original victim of the discrimination.

The only circumstances in which someone wouldn't be protected from victimisation is if they give false evidence in a discrimination claim or if they make an allegation in bad faith. In this situation, the individual would not be protected under the Equality Act 2010.

Making a discrimination at work claim

To make a discrimination claim, it must relate to a protected characteristic and early conciliation must be started within 3 months, less one day, of the discrimination taking place. If this criteria hasn't been met, the tribunal is unlikely to have the power to hear your case and we’ll be unable to help with your case at this time.

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