In broad terms discrimination occurs if an employee with a protected characteristic is treated differently or less favourably than another who does not have that characteristic.
Protected characteristics are defined in the Equality Act 2010. These are:-
- gender reassignment;
- marriage and civil partnership;
- pregnancy and maternity;
- religion or belief;
- sexual orientation.
Unlike unfair dismissal claims damages in relation to discrimination can be unlimited.
The most common claims we come across in this area relate to sex, race and disability discrimination.
An employer can discriminate against an employee directly or indirectly. An example of indirect discrimination may be a job advert with a requirement that only people six foot or above may apply. This may indirectly disadvantage certain groups.
Another form or discriminatory behavior is harassment which occurs if an employee is subject to an intimidating and hostile environment for example offensive jokes or banter.
Behaviours out of work for example parties, away days or friday night drinks can give rise to a claim.
Employers can be liable for acts of employees and this is called vicarious liability.
Discrimination is a complex area. We can fully advise as to each type of discrimination claim if you are presenting a claim or defending one.
Taking timely advice is the key in both cases.
Employees have three months less one day from the act of discrimination about which they complain to commence a claim. An employee need not leave employment to commence a claim.
Prior to claiming employees must now contact ACAS about Early Conciliation. https://ec.acas.org.uk/.
Extensions can be granted in certain circumstances but this is rare.