Employee Guide to Discrimination at Work

15 February 2018

In England and Wales, it’s unlawful to discriminate against people based on any ‘protected characteristic’. Protected characteristics include: age, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, disability, race, religion or belief, gender or gender reassignment.

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.

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.

It may be that you’ve been overlooked for a promotion because of your age, race or religion, you’ve been singled out for redundancy because you were pregnant or on maternity leave, or you are being paid less than a colleague of the opposite sex who does the same job. In these circumstances you may have been a victim of discrimination at work and your employer could be held legally accountable for their actions. For more information see Discrimination at Work.

Disability Discrimination

If you are disabled then your employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments for you in the workplace so that your disability does not put you at a disadvantage. The type of reasonable adjustments that an employer can be expected to make include things such as offering braille or audio formats of forms, ensuring that buildings have wheelchair access and providing adequate facilities to enable someone with a disability to do their job. For more information see Disability Discrimination at Work.

Have You Suffered Discrimination at Work?

If you believe that you have been treated less favourably because of a protected characteristic, then you may have been subjected to discrimination in the workplace. If this is the case then you can choose to bring a discrimination claim. It’s a good idea to speak to an Employment Solicitor to obtain independent legal advice and guidance before bringing a claim.

To bring a claim, it will be necessary for you to prove that you have been subjected to discrimination. Our Employment Solicitors know how daunting this can feel, and how challenging it can be for individuals to prove that discrimination has taken place. We are here to help you.

An Employment Solicitor can discuss your circumstances with you and explain the situation without using legal jargon, so that you know where you stand. We understand how upsetting discrimination in the workplace can be and we’ll be on hand to support you through every step of your discrimination case.

If you believe that you have been subjected to discrimination at work and you’re ready to take the first step in making a claim, we can help you.

Discrimination Claim Time Limits

There are strict time limits that apply to discrimination cases, so it’s important to start the process as soon as possible. The earlier you take the first step, the easier and more effective the process will be for you.

Before lodging a claim with the Employment Tribunal, you must notify ACAS (the Government advisory, conciliation and arbitration service). ACAS will attempt conciliation with your employer to resolve the matter. If this isn’t successful then ACAS will issue you with a certificate confirming that conciliation was attempted. At this stage you can progress your claim to the Employment Tribunal.

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