Being discriminated against at work can be a devastating experience. Thankfully under UK law, employees are protected against discrimination in the workplace. It also covers all those in the workplace - that includes agency workers.
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It is unlawful for your employer to treat you differently or badly because of any of the following grounds (known as protected characteristics):
- Age – applies equally to younger members of the workforce, just as much as it does to older workers.
- Gender Reassignment – this type of discrimination may take the form of treating you less favourably than fellow workers whilst going through the process of changing from one gender to another. Discrimination may also take place if you have already changed gender. Employers must not treat those employees who have time off work to undergo gender reassignment, any differently to employees who are absent due to illness, injury, or to undergo medical appointments.
- Marriage & Civil Partnership
- Religion or Belief
- Sex – both male and females can be discriminated against on the grounds of their sex.
- Sexual Orientation
There are 4 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, or as a result of becoming pregnant. Being demoted to a lower grade or being forced to take a cut in pay, as a result of being in the category of having one of the protected characteristics can also be a discriminatory act.
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. Indirect discrimination is not always obvious. If you are unsure whether you are being subject to indirect discrimination, contact one of our employment law experts.
This is unwanted conduct – treatment that makes you feel humiliated or intimidated, because of your protected characteristic(s). Similarly, comments may be made relating to your protected characteristic(s) that create a hostile or offensive environment for you. It does not matter what the intentions were of those who made the comments or behaved in a certain way. It is about the way the behaviour made you feel – the effect it had on you. If you are unsure whether the behaviour that you have been subjected to amounts to harassment, then why not call Spencers employment solicitors? They have extensive experience of successfully working for many clients who have experienced harassment at work. Just call 08000 and you will be able to have an initial, free of charge and confidential chat with an employment solicitor about your situation.
If you raise a complaint or are a witness in support of someone else’s claim of discrimination, and then are treated in a negative way as a result, then this may 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, that would be victimisation. Another example might be if you had helped a colleague to bring an employment tribunal claim and subsequently you experience negative conduct from the management, then this could amount victimisation. Our employment lawyers would be more than happy to run through the circumstances of any potential victimisation at work claim, with you.
If you have a physical or mental impairment that has lasted or is likely to last at least 12 months and 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 do meet this definition, then as well as the types of discrimination described above, you are also protected from two other forms of discrimination:
- Discrimination Arising from a Disability
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 an absence from work that is a result of a disability you have, then this could be considered to be discrimination arising from a disability.
- Failure to Make Reasonable Adjustments
If you have a disability, an employer is under a legal duty to remove any obstacles that might prevent you from doing your job to the same extent as colleagues who are not disabled. So, for instance if a new policy or a set of procedures, is introduced and because of your disability, you are put at a disadvantage in carrying out your duties as compared to your colleagues, then the employer must take action to remedy the position otherwise he could find himself facing a disability discrimination claim.
Alternatively if a physical feature of the job, such as being required to negotiate a set of stairs to get to your workplace, or the set-up of your workstation, 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, for example, may be satisfied by providing some specialist equipment, more wheelchair access or by increasing the stage at which the company’s absence management procedures start.
What do I do if I have been discriminated against?
Being subjected to discrimination is an experience that provokes feelings of anger, shock and upset. Worry about losing a job, whilst at the same time having a burning desire to get redress, can lead to victims of discrimination at work, not knowing which way to turn.
That’s when a call to Spencers discrimination claims solicitors is most needed. Not only will they be able to calmly go though your personal situation and details of the discrimination that you have experienced, they will be able to outline your options which, if your claim is successful, lead to;
- You receiving an award of compensation
- A change to the conditions in which you work – a change for the better!
- What to do if you believe you are being discriminated against at work’
- The remedies that are available to a worker who has been discriminated against,
- How compensation for discrimination is calculated.
- How your claim might be funded
Remember – if you have been discriminated against at work, it doesn’t matter how long you have been working for that employer. Even if you are discriminated against on the first day of work for a new employer, you are entitled to make a discrimination compensation claim.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against in your workplace, or you have any questions about workplace discrimination, contact a member of our Employment team here at Spencers on 01246 266867.
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