It is unlawful for your employer to treat you differently because of any of the following grounds (known as protected characteristics):
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There are different types of discrimination:
This is where you are treated less favourably than someone else because of one of the protected characteristics above. This might be, for example, where you are dismissed because of your sexual orientation.
This is where your employer applies a policy or a procedure to a group of employees that puts someone at a disadvantage because of a protected characteristic when compared to others who do not share that characteristic. For example, a requirement that somebody be under 30 for a role or to have a certain number of years’ experience for a role are likely to be discriminatory on the grounds of age.
This is unwanted conduct regarding a protected characteristic that violates your dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for you. It does not matter if the unwanted conduct was intended to cause upset, but what the effect was. For example, comments about someone’s religion or sexual orientation that you find humiliating or offensive would amount to harassment.
If you raise a complaint or are a witness in support of someone else’s claim of discrimination, and then are subjected to detriment as a result, then this will amount to victimisation.
For example, if you made a complaint that your manager had discriminated against your race and you were then dismissed because you had made that complaint would be victimisation.
If you have a physical or mental impairment that has lasted or is likely to last at least 12 months, that has a substantial impact on your ability to carry out normal day to day activities, then you will meet the definition of a disabled person under the Equality Act. If you meet this definition, then as well as the types of discrimination described above, you are also protected from two other forms of discrimination:
This is where an employer treats an employee unfavourably because of something that happens as a consequence of a disability. For example, if you are dismissed because of absence that is a result of a disability you have, then this could be discrimination arising from a disability.
If something about your job such as a policy, a procedure, or a physical feature of the job, such as stairs, or your desk, put you at a disadvantage because of your disability, then your employer is under a duty to make any reasonable adjustments that would remove the disadvantage. This may be by providing some specialist equipment, or by increasing the stage at which their absence management procedures start.
The first step should be to submit a grievance to your employer and give them the opportunity to resolve your concerns.
You will need to be careful regarding time limits though, as you only have 3 months less 1 day from the date of the last act of discrimination to register your claim with ACAS for Early Conciliation. Submitting a grievance will not extend this time limit and so if you feel like you have been discriminated against, it is important to take advice as early as possible.
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