The Equality Act 2010 prohibits employers from treating their employees/workers less favourably due to certain characteristics. The characteristics protected under the Equality Act 2010 are: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnerships, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation. Prohibited conduct under the EqA 2010 includes direct/indirect discrimination, harassment, and victimisation. It can sometimes be difficult to identify discrimination, some examples include:

  • Dismissing an employee or refusing time off because of their care responsibilities for a disabled dependant
  • Changing working hours so that a religious employee is prevented from attending religious services
  • Making sexually suggestive remarks and/or questioning an employee about their private relationships
  • Denial of a benefit/withdrawal of job offer because an employee has made an allegation and/or raised a grievance
  • Teasing or jibing an employee due a perception about sexual orientation
  • Treating men or women less favourably in terms of pay/benefits

If you have been subject to discrimination during your employment you must make a complaint to the Employment Tribunal within three months less one day from the date of the last act of discrimination. If your discrimination complaint relates to equal pay, you will have six months from the last day of your employment to bring an action. In order to bring a discrimination claim, you must satisfy the following two elements:

  1.  You must be able to establish that you have one of the protected characteristics i.e. age, sex, disability; and
  2. You must be able to identify the less favourable treatment/detriment you have been subject to by your employer because of the protected characteristic. You will note that there is no continuous service element required to bring a discrimination claim. This means that employees/workers can bring claims regardless of the length of time they have been employed. It may be the case that the employment had not started because the discrimination took place in the recruitment process.

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