Discrimination & Equal Opportunities

Discrimination law is one of the most complex areas of employment law for employers to keep up to date with. Discrimination law grants employees protection from adverse treatment because of certain key protected characteristics;

  • Age
  • Gender reassignment
  • Being married or in a civil partnership
  • Being pregnant or on maternity leave
  • Disability
  • Race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

There are then certain areas of prohibited conduct which, if applied because of a protected characteristic, are then held to be unlawful. These include;

  • Direct Discrimination – i.e. treating someone with a protected characteristic less favourably than others (e.g. dismissing an employee for being gay)
  • Indirect Discrimination – i.e. putting rules or arrangements in place that apply to everyone, but that put someone with a protected characteristic at an unfair disadvantage (e.g. requiring someone to have 10 years workplace experience which places those who are under the age of 26 at an unfair disadvantage)
  • Harassment – i.e. unwanted behaviour linked to a protected characteristic that violates someone’s dignity or creates an offensive environment for them (e.g. sexual innuendo and jokes)
  • Victimisation – i.e. treating someone unfairly because they’ve complained about discrimination or harassment (e.g. dismissing the troublemaker)

There are also certain positive obligations, for example to make reasonable adjustments to facilitate a disabled employee working for you.

How can we help you?

Nockolds' specialist Employment Law Team can help you to navigate this tricky area of law and ensure that you avoid potentially costly and damaging disputes with your employees.