Helping Protect your Employees - and your Business

In the UK the Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee. If an employee believes that their employer has done something that amounts to their being treated unfairly because of the way that they are, then an employer may be vulnerable to a discrimination claim under the Equality Act.

Workplace Discrimination Advice for Employees, London, Bristol, Buckinghamshire

Discrimination claims can be very difficult to handle: only certain kinds of conduct can be deemed to be discriminatory. Furthermore the conduct must be of a certain degree before there can be a potential legal action. At KLG, we are experts in the field of employment law with particular knowledge of the law on discrimination. If you are concerned that your organisation may become vulnerable to a discrimination claim, please contact us now. We advise clients in Maidenhead, Slough, Reading, Watford, Gerrards Cross, Central London, Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes, Luton, Bristol, Swindon and across the UK.

Contrary to what many may believe, there are in fact several different kinds of discrimination. Under the Equality Act, there are certain characteristics of people which cannot be used to treat you unfairly:

  • Age;
  • Disability;
  • Gender (including gender-reassignment);
  • Marriage/civil partnership;
  • Race;
  • Religion;
  • Sex; and,
  • Sexual Orientation.

Each of these characteristics are deemed ‘protected characteristics’. If an employer takes any action that is unfair, and it relates to any of the characteristics listed above, then this may give rise to a discrimination claim.

Classes of Discrimination

The important point is that an employer cannot treat an employee unfairly based on one of the ‘protected characteristics’. Depending on the particular circumstances, an employer’s actions may be deemed to be a particular kind of discrimination:

Direct Discrimination

If an employee is treated differently to how other employees are treated, based on their possession of a ‘protected characteristic’, then an employer may be guilty of direct discrimination.

Indirect Discrimination

Indirect discrimination is where an employer treats an employee in the same way as they do their colleagues, but this treatment has a worse effect on a particular employee because of who they are, e.g. their race, their sex etc.

Harassment

If an employer or their other employees behave in an unwanted or unwelcome manner towards an employee, which is meant or has the effect of violating their dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment, this may give rise to a claim of harassment. It is important to understand that conduct will only be unlawful if it is because of, or related to, the protected characteristics i.e. their race, age, sexual orientation etc.

Victimisation

This is a kind of discrimination where an employer or their other employees treat an employee badly because of their having complained about being a victim of discrimination in the past e.g. direct, indirect or harassment. Employers are obliged to take reasonable steps to protect them where they have previously claimed to have suffered from discrimination. If they fail to do so, you may be vulnerable to legal action.

Maternity and Pregnancy Discrimination

This is a particular kind of discrimination under the Equality Act. If an employer treats an employee unfairly owing to their pregnancy or having recently gave birth, causing them to be disadvantaged, they will be guilty of having treated that employee unfavourably under the Equality Act.

Employers are forbidden from taking employees’ absence from work owing to a pregnancy related illness into account when considering their employment. Furthermore if they are notified that their employee is pregnant, they are obliged to carry out a risk assessment to ensure that they are no health and safety risks to the employee or their unborn child.

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The law on discrimination can be very difficult to navigate successfully. At KLG, we take pride in our successful history of helping clients handle claims of discrimination in the workplace. We provide expert advice that reflects your circumstances, and we will work with you every step of the way in addressing a discrimination claim. Contact us now. Call us on 08081685860 now.

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