Employee Discrimination Lawyers

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Employment Discrimination Law

The key piece of legislation governing employee discrimination law in the UK is the Equality Act 2010. This Act consolidates previous anti-discrimination laws including the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. There are nine protected characteristics which are covered under the Act.

These are:-

  1. Age;
  2. Disability;
  3. Sex;
  4. Sexual orientation;
  5. Religion or Belief;
  6. Marriage & Civil Partnership;
  7. Gender reassignment;
  8. Pregnancy &
  9. Maternity;

An employee is subjected to discrimination when he or she is treated less favourably than a comparator without the protected characteristic because of that characteristic.

Direct vs Indirect Discrimination

What is direct vs indirect discrimination? Direct discrimination is treating somebody less favourably because of the characteristic itself. Indirect discrimination occurs when there are policies or practices which place a particular protected group at a disadvantage. An example of this would be a policy requiring employees to work full time which places working mothers at a disadvantage.

Victimisation occurs when a person is treated less favourably because they have raised allegations of discrimination. These allegations of discrimination do not necessarily have to be well founded but there needs to be a reasonable belief that those allegations are.

Finally, harassment occurs when someone is subjected to repeated instances of poor treatment that can be reasonably argued to be linked to their protected characteristic 

Discrimination in the Workplace

Discrimination in the workplace can have serious adverse consequences for individuals. It can result in significantly reduced job satisfaction and productivity. Companies can face significant repercussions, as decreased morale and productivity can adversely affect their financial performance.

Discrimination claims, unlike unfair dismissal claims, can give rise to claims of unlimited damages in the Employment Tribunal. Individuals who are discriminated against can recover loss of salary without any limit being applied to those losses. In addition, they can recover a sum for injury to feelings which is not a head of damages for those claiming unfair dismissal.

ACAS Grievance Procedure

The ACAS grievance procedure is a formal process for employees to raise complaints or problems with their employer. Claims must be brought in the Employment Tribunal within three months of the act or omission which gives rise to the claim for discrimination.

Employees should engage in ACAS early conciliation to attempt to mediate their claims before issuing a claim at the Employment Tribunal. The time which is spent as part of the ACAS early conciliation process extends the deadline for filing the claim at the Employment Tribunal.

Employees who believe that they are being subjected to discriminatory conduct by individuals at their workplace should consider filing a grievance. This should be done according to the company’s internal grievance procedure. If there is no internal grievance process, the employee can follow the grievance procedure set out under the ACAS guidelines.

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Employee Discrimination Reading

The individual should put their employee discrimination complaint in writing and request an investigation and a meeting to discuss their concerns. The employer should investigate the complaint carefully. They should set up a meeting where the employee is entitled to be accompanied by a colleague or a trade union representative.

The decision needs to be confirmed in writing and the employee should be allowed to appeal the decision to a higher level of management than the original chair of the meeting.

If the grievance process does not resolve the concerns, the employee should consider commencing the ACAS early conciliation process and issuing a claim at the Employment Tribunal.

For further information on filing a discrimination claim at the Employment Tribunal please follow this link.

Equal Opportunities Procedure Procedure

Employers should include equal opportunities procedures in their employee handbook. They should also implement rigorous training for managers to avoid the risk of discrimination claims. Implementing appropriate policies and applying training is advisable for all employers. The risk of a discrimination claim brings with it a significant financial risk with unlimited damages claims.

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