It is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of:
- being or becoming a transsexual person
- being married or in a civil partnership
- being pregnant or having a child
- race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
- religion, belief or lack of religion/belief
- sexual orientation
These are called ‘protected characteristics’.
You are protected from discrimination in these situations:
- at work
- in education
- as a consumer
- when using public services
- when buying or renting property
- as a member or guest of a private club or association
You are legally protected from discrimination by the Equality Act 2010.
You are also protected from discrimination if:
- you’re associated with someone who has a protected characteristic, eg a family member or friend
- you’ve complained about discrimination (eg raised a grievance or made a claim) or supported someone else’s claim
Q: What types of action constitutes discrimination?
A: Discrimination can come in one of the following forms:
- Direct discrimination – treating someone with a protected characteristic less favourably than others;
- Indirect discrimination – putting rules or arrangements in place that apply to everyone, but that put someone with a protected characteristic at an unfair disadvantage
- Harassment – unwanted behaviour linked to a protected characteristic that violates someone’s dignity or creates an offensive environment for them
- Victimisation – treating someone unfairly because they’ve complained about discrimination or harassment
It can be lawful to have specific rules or arrangements in place, as long as they can be justified.
Q: How am I protected from discrimination in my workplace?
A: The law protects you against discrimination at work, including:
- employment terms and conditions
- pay and benefits
- promotion and transfer opportunities
Q: What if I have a disability which affects my work?
If you’re disabled you have the same rights as other workers. Employers should also make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to help disabled employees and job-applicants with:
- application forms (eg providing forms in Braille, audio formats)
- aptitude tests (eg giving extra time to complete the tests)
- dismissal or redundancy
- discipline and grievances
- interview arrangements (eg wheelchair access, communicator support)
- making sure the workplace has the right facilities and equipment for disabled workers or someone offered a job
- promotion, transfer and training opportunities
- terms of employment, including pay
- work-related benefits like access to recreation or refreshment facilities
Q: If I have suffered discrimination can I make a compensation claim?
A: Depending on the circumstances you might be able to make a claim to an Employment Tribunal for a finding on whether you have suffered discrimination. If a tribunal finds in your favour you will be awarded compensation which might include loss of earnings and a payment for injury to your feelings. You should usually raise a grievance with your employer first. You must make your claim within 3 months of the last incident of discrimination otherwise you might lose your right to claim.