If you feel that you are being treated differently because of any of the listed factors and your employer cannot show that the treatment is unrelated to that factor, it may be possible for you to claim discrimination in an Employment Tribunal.
In order to have a claim, discrimination must be on grounds of a particular characteristic. These are known as ‘protected characteristics’ where businesses must not discriminate against employees on the basis of:
(for example, offering a male employee a better benefits package than a female counterpart)
- Gender reassignment
- Being pregnant or on maternity leave
(for example, delaying a promotion before a female worker goes on maternity leave)
- Being married or in a civil partnership
(including ethnic or national origin, nationality and colour). For example, it could be unlawful to refuse to promote an employee on the basis that English is not their first language
(for example, a business cannot dismiss a disabled employee simply for taking substantial periods of sick leave, if they are off work because of their disability)
- Sexual orientation
(for example, if a business invites employees’ partners to a work party, invitations should be extended to same-sex partners)
- Religion or belief
(for example, it may be unlawful to prohibit headwear at work, as this may discriminate against Sikhs who wear turbans for religious reasons)
(for example, choosing not to interview a candidate because their application suggests they are nearing retirement age is discriminatory)
DO YOU BELIEVE YOU ARE BEING DISCRIMINATED AGAINST?
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Your employer has an obligation to its employees to make sure there are set procedures in place to prevent discrimination in the work place and should deal with any complaints that arise because of discrimination.
MANNER OF DISCRIMINATION
There are different ways of discriminating against someone, which includes direct and indirect discrimination; discrimination by perception; victimisation; harassment and third party harassment.
SUBMITTING A CLAIM
If you decide to submit a claim there is no need to have been employed for a specific length of time. However an Employment Tribunal must receive the claim within three months minus one day from the date of the last act of discrimination.
For example, if an employer makes a sexist comment to a female employee then the date that comment was made would be the last act of discrimination for the purposes of starting a claim. The deadline would be 3 months minus one day from that date.
In some cases, an employee may be relying on a series of acts which is called a continuing act of discrimination. In this situation the deadline would run from the last in the series of those acts.
WHAT IF MY CLAIM IS SUCCESSFUL?
If a discrimination case is successful the most common reward is in the form of compensation. There is no cap upon the compensation that can be ordered by an Employment Tribunal and it can include an element to cover injury to feelings and, occasionally, if the employee suffered psychological injury, damages for Personal Injury.
The damages can also be increased if the employer’s behaviour was insulting or malicious (“aggravated damages”). Tribunals can also make recommendations for improvements in the employer’s policies and systems, although these are unusual.
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