As an employer, it is your duty under the Equality Act 2010 to ensure that no person is treated less favourably because of their personal attributes.
Your business should have robust policies that are implemented to ensure your staff do not suffer discrimination. These can also go some way protect you against any allegations that are made.
Discrimination claims made against you can prove extremely costly, so it is vital that you are protected. The employment law experts at Davis Blank Furniss can help you ensure all your processes conform to anti-discrimination laws, while we can also act on your behalf in any disputes or tribunals you are facing.
When can discrimination occur?
It is important to be mindful that you need to guard against discrimination in all areas of your employment process.
For example, your recruitment procedures should not discriminate against a particular person or characteristic, including who you choose to interview and who you eventually elect to recruit. This shows that you must take care to avoid discrimination even before someone becomes an employee of your business.
Other occasions where discrimination at work can occur include day-to-day dealings, promotion, pay and performance review, redundancy and termination. You need to have robust systems in place for all of these instances to protect your business against discrimination claims.
The Equality Act sets out a number of protected characteristics that it is unlawful to discriminate against. These include:
- Sexual orientation
- Marriage/civil partnership
- Gender reassignment
Types of discrimination at work
Employers should also be aware that discrimination at work can take a number of different forms, and it is equally important to guard against all of them:
- Direct discrimination – Treating person A less favourably than person B due to one of the protected characteristics detailed above.
- Indirect discrimination – Occurs when a seemingly neutral practice or process is shown to place one protected group at a disadvantage, e.g. a requirement for all employees to be clean shaven may be unacceptable to certain religious groups.
- Harassment – Unwanted conduct that violates a person’s dignity by creating a degrading, hostile, humiliating or offensive environment.
- Victimisation – While the examples above involve discriminating against someone who has a protected characteristic, victimisation occurs when someone is subject to discrimination for performing a ‘protected act’, e.g. making a discrimination claim against you.