Making sense of the law on sexual discrimination for employees
It is unlawful to discriminate against either a man or a woman on the basis of their sex. They have to be able to show that they have been treated less favourably than a man or a woman with an actual or hypothetical comparator. For more information, please see our page on Sex Discrimination.
The main piece of legislation relating to this is the Equality Act 2010. This protects all individuals from sexual discrimination at work, regardless of their gender.
The Equality Act defines sex as either male or female.
The Equality Act prohibits discrimination because you:
Direct sex discrimination is where you are, or would be, treated less favourably than someone of the opposite sex in comparable circumstances due to your gender.
Indirect sex discrimination is where a provision, criterion or practice applied to both sexes puts or would put one sex, including yourself, at a disadvantage. And which cannot be objectively justified by being demonstrated to be a proportional means of achieving a legitimate aim.
Victimisation is where you are treated detrimentally because you have made, or intend to make, an allegation or complaint of sex/gender discrimination at work. Also where you give or intend to give evidence in relation to a complaint.
Harassment is where unwanted conduct, has the purpose or effect of violating your dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the same purpose or effect is also specifically prohibited. This covers individuals treated less favourably because you rejected or submitted to unwanted sexual conduct. For more information, please see our page on Sexual Harassment.
The Equality Act (2010) states that it is against the law to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation, or their perceived sexual orientation.
For more information about sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace, please visit our page on Sexual Orientation Discrimination.
Our discrimination law solicitors at Martin Searle Solicitors advise on and have brought a wide range of sex discrimination at work claims. If you are an employee, agency worker or job applicant and have been discriminated against due to your sex, sexuality or have experienced sexual harassment at work, we can help. We offer advice on redundancy and Settlement Agreements in relation to sex discrimination. We can also advise if you believe you have a victimisation claim where you have been turned down for or dismissed from a position as a result of the actions of a former employer where you had raised a sex discrimination grievance.
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