Examples of discrimination at work
This occurs if you are treated less favourably because you possess one of the protected characteristics. For example, if you were not offered for a job because of your age, it is likely that you will have suffered direct age discrimination.
Indirect discrimination occurs when a provision, criterion or practice (working condition or rule) places you at a disadvantage compared to other employees who do not have the same protected characteristic. For example, it could be indirect sex discrimination against a woman for an employer to insist that all employees must work full time rotating shift patterns, as statistically more women than men have childcare responsibilities and have to work part time or regular hours. .
Such discrimination is likely to be unlawful unless your employer can show it was justified.
This is unwanted conduct of a physical or verbal nature which has the effect or purpose of creating an offensive, degrading or intimidating atmosphere, which typically humiliates or injures the target of the harassment. Even if the comments aimed at you were not intended to make you feel harassed, if it had this effect then you could potentially have a claim. Such behaviour is prohibited in the workplace, but an employer’s duty not to allow harassment of employees can also extend to social occasions, such as the office Christmas party, or to harassment by third parties such as customers or suppliers. Harassment covers examples such as racial abuse, or unwanted sexual advances.
Victimisation is treating an employee less favourably than others because they have made, or intend to make, a complaint about discrimination. This could cover, for example, your employer subjecting you to unfair disciplinary proceedings as a result of raising a grievance about less favourable treatment because of your race.
Disability Discrimination – Failure to Make Reasonable Adjustments
You could be disabled for the purpose of the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on your ability to carry out your normal day to day activities. If you have HIV, cancer or multiple sclerosis, or certain serious visual impairments, you are automatically classed as having a disability.
If you satisfy this definition and your disability puts you at a substantial disadvantage in the workplace, your employer is under a legal obligation to make “reasonable adjustments” to accommodate your disability, either to the physical premises or working practices. A failure to do this by your employer will give you a claim.
Discrimination Arising from a Disability
Under the Equality Act, you could have a claim if you are treated unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of a disability, if the treatment is not a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. For example, if you had severe dyslexia and were dismissed because your work output was lower than your non-disabled colleagues, this would potentially be discriminatory. Your employer must be aware, or should reasonably have been aware, that you had a disability, for this claim to succeed.
You could be suffering discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 if your pay or conditions are less favourable than your counterparts of the opposite sex if you are doing the same or similar work, work of the same value, or work rated as equivalent in a job evaluation study carried out by your employer. An equal pay claim must be brought within 6 months of the termination of your employment and can be backdated up to six years.