The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 prohibited sex discrimination in the workplace (sometimes also referred to as gender discrimination at work). Since October 2010 this has been regulated by the Equality Act. This legislation protects employees and workers (and anyone under a contract to personally carry out work) from less favourable treatment as a result of their gender.
Sex discrimination laws also prohibit less favourable treatment of someone due to gender reassignment. Discrimination on the basis of gender reassignment is where a person is treated less favourably on the grounds they 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 or your business may have discriminated against an employee due to their gender, you should meet with a specialist sex discrimination lawyer to discuss your case.
Direct sex discrimination where an individual is or would be treated less favourably than someone of the opposite sex, in comparable circumstances, due to their gender.
Indirect sex discrimination where a provision, criterion or practice applied to both sexes puts or would put one sex, including the individual concerned, 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 someone is treated detrimentally because they have made or intend to make a complaint or allegation of sex/gender discrimination at work. Also where they give or intend to give evidence in relation to a complaint.
Harassment where unwanted conduct has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s 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.
We help employers prevent sex discrimination in the workplace in a variety of ways, including writing or advising on the implementation of an equality and diversity policy and training managers in gender discrimination law. We offer advice on redundancy and Settlement Agreements in relation to sex discrimination claims.
We can also advise on or manage an investigation, grievance or disciplinary procedure involving allegations of sex discrimination in the workplace (sometimes called sexual discrimination in the workplace) or represent you at an Employment Tribunal.