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What is discrimination ? 

Discrimination is against the law. Discrimination at work is when your employer treats you less favourably than others, on grounds that are not related to your competency or ability to do your job because you belong to a particular group or category. The particular group or category is known as a “protected characteristic”.  The protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. The Equality Act 2010 provides protection from discrimination for EVERYONE with a protected characteristic.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is in charge of human rights and equalities. It has a role to protect, enforce and promote equality across the protected characteristics through the Equality Act 2010.

  • The Act provides a list of unique attributes of people such as their, race, age, sex etc. these are called the protected characteristics.
  • It describes the different types of conduct and behaviour which your employer, colleagues and others must not do. This is called prohibited conduct.
  • It provides a list of the specific types of activity in the employment relationship that are protected.
  • It gives you the power to make a claim in the Employment Tribunal if your employer discriminates against you.

What you can do 

There is no need to tolerate discrimination at work, when there is such an effective law protecting you from it. The law is only useful if you use it.

What to do if you are still in your job

If you are the target of discrimination, you must first raise a formal grievance with your employer, to give your employer an opportunity to put things right. At the same time, you can submit a discrimination questionnaire to your employer to help you collect evidence about the discrimination. If the grievance does not resolve the matter, you should contact the free ACAS Early Conciliation service for assistance. You don’t need to leave the job before you contact ACAS.

What to do if you have left the job

If you have already been fired and you think your dismissal was because of your protected characteristic, you should write a Letter before Claim to your employer within three months of your dismissal. You can submit a discrimination questionnaire to your employer to help you collect evidence about the discrimination.

Going to the Employment Tribunal

There are strict time limits for submitting a claim to the Employment Tribunal. The time-limit is usually three months less one day for each act of discrimination.   In order to have a claim in the Employment Tribunal, you will need to prove that;

  • You have a protected characteristic
  • Your employer (or prospective employer) has carried out unlawful conduct and behaviour BECAUSE of your protected characteristic.
  • Your employer (or prospective employer) carried out the prohibited conduct or behaviour in relation to an activity in the employment relationship.Discrimination
  • You suffered detriment (or could suffer detriment) because of what your employer has done.

Updated: 15/03/2020



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