If you are the victim of discrimination, our discrimination lawyers can help you raise a Grievance, negotiate a settlement or bring an Employment Tribunal claim where necessary. Our employment lawyers have extensive experience of discrimination claims so you will receive the best possible advice and representation.
It is unlawful to treat a worker less favourably because of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation. This is known as direct discrimination.
Indirect discrimination is also unlawful: where an employer’s practices put people with a particular protected characteristic at substantial disadvantage and the employer cannot justify it as being a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. So for example, a dress code or uniform that did not allow for religious dress or jewellery might be indirectly discriminatory but the employer might be able to justify it on health and safety grounds.
Harassment is defined as unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating a worker’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or otherwise offensive environment. If the conduct is related to a protected characteristic or of a sexual nature, it is unlawful under the Equality Act.
Disabled workers should not be treated unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of their disability, unless it can be justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. They are also entitled to reasonable adjustments to remove any substantial disadvantage caused by their employer’s practices.
Finally, it is unlawful to victimise a worker by subjecting them to a detriment because they have complained about discrimination or given evidence or information in connection with discrimination proceedings.
We know that money will be tight if you have lost your job because of discrimination. We therefore offer no win no fee agreements to bring Employment Tribunal claims in suitable cases and also identify whether you might be able to use existing legal expenses insurance to pay your legal fees.
Our employment lawyers are based in our London office but can also see you at our Watford Office.
Contact us on 020 7935 3522, firstname.lastname@example.org or using the contact form
FAQs about Discrimination
What are protected characteristics?
The Equality Act 2010 consolidated previous legislation preventing discrimination and refers to protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. So discrimination against LGBT or Muslim staff is outlawed alongside discrimination against women or based on national origin or ethnicity.
What is direct discrimination?
Direct discrimination is treating a person less favourably than you would others because of a protected characteristic. It isn’t necessary to have that protected characteristic to be the victim of discrimination: it is possible to claim for discrimination by association or because of a perception that the complainant has a protected characteristic.
What is indirect discrimination?
Indirect discrimination occurs when an employers’ policies or practices place people with particular protected characteristics at particular disadvantage. It might be a uniform policy that doesn’t allow religious dress or jewellery, a height restriction or even a requirement to work full time or in a particular location. Unless the employer can objectively justify the policy or practice as proportionate to achieving a legitimate aim, this is unlawful indirect discrimination.
What is the definition of harassment under the Equality Act 2010?
Harassment is unwanted conduct that is related to a protected characteristic and has either the purpose or effect of violating the complainant’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or otherwise offensive environment for him/her. Sexual harassment may relate to sex or be of a sexual nature. Treating a complainant less favourably because he/she has submitted to or rejected sexual harassment is also outlawed.
A complainant doesn’t need to show that the perpetrator intended to intimidate, degrade, humiliate or offend him/her, just that their behaviour had that effect, meaning that an Employment Tribunal must look at the complainant’s perception, the circumstances and whether it is reasonable for the conduct to have that effect. So an “innocent” joke, comment or action could be found to be harassment if, in the circumstances, a reasonable person in the complainant’s position would be humiliated or offended, but an over-sensitive recipient might not succeed in a harassment claim even if their feelings are genuine.
What are reasonable adjustments?
As well as outlawing direct and indirect discrimination and harassment of disabled people, the Equality Act requires employers to make reasonable adjustments to policies or practices that place disabled employees at substantial disadvantage. Disability is widely defined as a long term condition with a substantial impact on day to day life, covering both physical and mental illness. HIV, Cancer and MS are deemed disabilities.
What is victimisation?
Victimisation follows a “protected act”, which can be bringing proceedings under the Equality Act, giving evidence or information in connection with proceedings, making an allegation that the Equality Act has been contravened or doing any other thing in connection with the Equality Act. Subjecting a person to a “detriment” because they have done a protected act or even because it is believed they have done or may do a protected act is unlawful victimisation.
Who is liable for discrimination?
An employer is vicariously liable for its employees’ discrimination unless it can show that it took reasonable steps to prevent it. Employees can also be sued in their own right: owner managers of limited companies should be aware that they can be personally liable if the Employment Tribunal consider that they were responsible for the discrimination.
Are discrimination and harassment settlements taxable?
The first £30000 of any compensation for loss of employment is tax free. This also applies to claims for discrimination and harassment. However, a change in the law means that for anyone dismissed on or after 6 April 2018, any payments in respect of your notice period will be subject to tax and national insurance.