What Can Constitute Discrimination At Work?

As an employee, you have protection against discrimination in the workplace – but what sort of thing counts as discrimination?

If you are treated adversely at work due to one of a set of personal attributes then that is discrimination.

These are known as “protected characteristics” and include: disability; age; gender; race; sexual orientation; religion; pregnancy or having a child; being married or in a civil partnership; and being or becoming a transsexual.

As an employee, you are also entitled to protection against discrimination if you are associated with someone who has a protected characteristic.  This covers your situation if you have, for example, a homosexual child or a disabled spouse.

Of course, discrimination at work does happen.  As you can see from the above, discrimination can take many forms but the general scenario is that someone with a protected characteristic is put at a disadvantage or treated less favourably.  It is also possible to suffer discrimination if you are subject to harassment at work or victimisation (being targeted because you have made a complaint).

Examples of discrimination at work

· Redundancy because of a protected characteristic;

· Refusal of a job application because of a protected characteristic;

· Dismissal because of a protected characteristic;

· Receiving less favourable terms in your employment contract because of a protected characteristic;

· Denial of training because of a protected characteristic;

· Receiving less favourable pay and benefits because of a protected characteristic;

· Denial of promotion and transfer opportunities because of a protected characteristic;

All employers have a legal obligation to prevent discrimination at work and to deal with any incidents of discrimination promptly and effectively.  Accordingly, if you think that you or a friend or relative is being discriminated against at work, it is important to take action to remedy the situation.

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