Making Sense of the Law on sex discrimination for employees
The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 prohibited sex discrimination at work (sometimes also referred to as gender discrimination in the workplace). Since October 2010 this has been regulated by the Equality Act. This legislation protects you as either employees or as workers (and anyone under a contract to personally carry out work) from less favourable treatment as a result of your gender.
Sex discrimination laws also prohibit less favourable treatment of someone due to gender reassignment. Gender reassignment discrimination is where you are treated less favourably on the grounds you intend to have, have had or are undergoing gender reassignment. Gender discrimination law also covers absences for gender reassignment. As a result, it is discriminatory to treat an individual with absence for gender reassignment less favourably than if their absence was due to sickness, injury or another cause.
It is also unlawful to discriminate against married people or those in a civil partnership, but not because they are not married or in a civil partnership. Pregnant women and new mothers are protected by specific workplace rights − see maternity discrimination and pregnancy discrimination for more.
If you believe you have been discriminated against due to your gender, you should meet with a specialist sex discrimination solicitor to discuss your case.
Direct sex discrimination where an you are or would be treated less favourably than someone of the opposite sex, in comparable circumstances, due to your gender.
Indirect sex discrimination 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 (ie it cannot be demonstrated to be a proportional means of achieving a legitimate aim).
Victimisation where you are treated detrimentally because you have made or intend to make a complaint or allegation of sex/gender discrimination at work. Also where you give or intend to give evidence in relation to a complaint.
Harassment 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 they rejected or submitted to such unwanted sexual conduct.
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, we can help. We offer advice on redundancy and Settlement Agreements in relation to sex / gender 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.