Victimisation in the Workplace

02 May 2019

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.

Workplace Discrimination and Victimisation

Discrimination and victimisation in the workplace are closely linked, but they are not the same thing. To understand the difference between the two, it's necessary to first understand what discrimination means.

Under the Equality Act 2010, it is against the law to treat someone unfairly or differently because of certain characteristics, called 'protected characteristics.'

There are 9 protected characteristics:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

If someone is treated less favourably as a result of any of these characteristics, this is discrimination. Examples of discrimination in the workplace could include not offering a candidate a job because they are considered too old, or withholding training from a pregnant employee because of her pregnancy.

If someone makes a complaint about discrimination, or supports someone else who makes a complaint or who 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 her male colleagues gave evidence in support of her complaint and was then refused a promotion as a result, then the refusal of promotion would also amount to victimisation, even though the male 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.

What Can You Do about Victimisation at Work?

If you believe that you have suffered discrimination or victimisation in the workplace, then it may be possible for you to bring a workplace discrimination claim. Our Employment Solicitors understand how difficult it can be to take the first step, and we will work with you to make the discrimination claim process as stress free as it can be.

We only ever represent employees, never employers, so you can be assured that our Solicitors will act in your very best interests.

It's important to note that there are strict time limits that apply to employment discrimination cases, so it's a good idea to start the process and speak to a Solicitor as early as possible.

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