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Discrimination in the workplace – what you need to know

Friday, 17 October 2014

What is discrimination in the workplace?

Image9Discrimination occurs when an employee is treated differently or less favourably than others. An example of this could be a female worker being denied equal pay to male colleagues, or a mature employee being denied the same training as other workers due to age. Discrimination can occur in the form of direct discrimination or indirect discrimination (see below). Organisations and businesses should put in place policies to prevent any such discrimination from happening.

Types of discrimination

Under the Equality Act (2010) it is unlawful to discriminate against anyone because of:

  • Age
  • Sexual orientation
  • Sex
  • Religion, belief or lack of religion/belief
  • Race, colour, nationality, ethnicity or national origin
  • Being pregnant or having a child
  • Being married or in a civil partnership
  • Being or becoming a transsexual person


How can employees be discriminated against?

Direct discrimination: This is the act of treating someone less favourably than others, for example, offering training to younger colleagues but not to more mature workers.

Indirect discrimination: This is when rules or arrangements have a negative impact on someone due to a characteristic (race, age, sex, etc.)

Harassment: When a person is treated in a way that violates their dignity and creates an unwanted environment for them.

Victimisation: Treating someone unfairly because they have made a complaint about discrimination or harassment.

How does the Equality Act protect employees?

The Equality Act (2010) protects workers from being discriminated against in the workplace but also in other areas of day to day life such as education, as a consumer, when using public services, buying or renting property or as a member of a private club or association.

Discrimination claims can be legally complex so it is essential to contact experienced legal advisors to ensure that you get the best advice possible. Contact us on 020 7611 4848 or click here to learn more about discrimination in the workplace.

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