Workplace Discrimination and Harassment
Employment law and unfair treatment
Discrimination in the workplace is taken extremely seriously by the authorities, and there are several laws and regulations in place to protect employees from being treated unfavourably.
Under employment law, employers are not allowed to discriminate against certain employees because of their:
- race (including colour, nationality and ethnic/natural origins)
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
- pregnancy and maternity
- gender reassignment
- marriage and civil partnership
Similarly, employers cannot treat you differently because you work part-time or on a fixed-term contract.
This applies to your salary, your conditions of employment and the circumstances under which you are required to work.
Age Discrimination under the Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act came into force on the 1st October 2010 and includes age as a “protected characteristic”. Any claims pre-dating 1st October 2010 are governed by the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/1031).
Under the act it is unlawful for an employer to:
- Discriminate directly against an employee or applicant by treating them less favourably on the basis of their age
- Discriminate indirectly against an employee or applicant by applying a criteria or condition then disadvantages a particular age group
- Subject and employee or applicant to harassment related to their age
- Victimise an employee or applicant because they have made or intend to make a compliant about age discrimination
There is no longer a statutory retirement age of 65 and retirement is no longer a statutory reason for dismissal. This means if employers wish to dismiss an older employee they will need to show it was for one of the five potential fair reasons if they wish to avoid an unfair dismissal claim. It is possible an employer could argue that the employee has reached an appropriate retirement age and seek to objectively justify the retirement age as “some other substantial reason” for the dismissal.
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