Discrimination at Work

The Equality Act 2010 consolidates the existing law relating to inequality at work and discrimination at work.  It has had a harmonising effect over all of the earlier legislation and provides a singular approach as far as possible to tackling discrimination at work.

If you are being discriminated against at work, subjected to abuse, harassment, victimisation or ill-treatment, our expert workplace discrimination solicitors can help you. You don’t have to suffer alone. Call us for discrimination advice.

The new law came into force on 1 October 2010.  It is important to understand that transitional provisions still apply and will remain relevant in cases where the act of discrimination complained of took place and was completed prior to 1 October 2010.

If you are being discriminated against, victimised, harassed or bullied, and want it to stop, we can offer three different levels of Care Pack. You’ll get a review of your case, drafting of documentation such as a formal grievance, and three months’ dedicated support, all for a low fixed fee which can work out as little as just over £1 a day!Ask about our Worker Claims Care Packs.

We also offer a low fixed-fee service for claims assessment. For a fee which amounts to less than an hours work for most High Street solicitors we’ll review your case and advise you on whether you have a claim. If we subsequently win the case we’ll deduct the Pre-Claim Review fee from our success fee, so you won’t be out of pocket.

Ask about a Pre-Claim Review

We can even help you if you’ve already started your claim in the Employment Tribunal. For a fixed fee we’ll review your claim and give you advice on drafting, tactics and procedure. And on top of that we’ll give you three months of support as your claim goes on, to maximise your chance of succeeding.

Ask about the Platinum Proceedings Pack

You won’t find any other employment solicitor who offers something of equivalent value for less (and if you think you have found an equivalent alternative product, talk to us as we’d love to know and we’re keen to remain the most competitive claimant employment law practice in the market).

Much of the old case law decided before the Equality Act 2010 came into force also remains relevant under the new provisions and will be applicable to new cases brought under the Equality Act 2010 unless overruled by new cases.

There are 9 protected characteristics recognised in the Equality Act 2010 as follows:

  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Disability
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Marriage and Civil Partnership
  • Gender reassignment
  • Equal pay

Types of Discrimination

There are 4 main types of discrimination as follows:

  • Section 13 – Direct Discrimination
  • Section 19 – Indirect Discrimination
  • Section 26 – Harassment
  • Section 27 – Victimisation

There are also two specific types of discrimination relevant just to disability cases as follows:

  • Section 15 – Discrimination arising from disability
  • Section 21 – Failure to make reasonable adjustments

Direct Discrimination

This is the most common and most recognisable type of discrimination.  It occurs when an employer makes an assumption about a worker or makes a judgement or decision about a worker based on inappropriate factors such as their race, sex or religion and because of this treats that worker less favourably than it would do others.

With the exception concerning direct discrimination on the grounds of age in which justification can be raised as a defence it will also be unlawful discrimination in other types of direct discrimination.

Indirect Discrimination

This occurs when an employer adopts a policy, provision, criterion or working practice which may on the face of things seem quite neutral in so far as it is applied equally to all workers but when examined more closely it inadvertently puts a certain group of workers at a disadvantage when compared to other workers.  Indirect discrimination can be justified if the employer can show that there is no other proportionate way to carry out of the conduct of its business other than implementing the discriminatory policy.


This occurs when a worker is subjected to unwanted conduct from his or her employer or another worker which either has the effect or purpose of violating his or her dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment and if it is because of his or her age, disability, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.  Harassment can still take place after the employment relationship has ended.


This occurs where a worker is less favourably treated because they have been involved in a complaint of discrimination or assisted another worker in bringing a complaint of discrimination.  The previous complaints are known as protected acts and can include merely making allegations through to actually bringing proceedings of discrimination.  As a worker you will be protected so long the earlier protected act was done in good faith.

Acts of Discrimination

There are a variety of Acts which the Equality Act 2010 provides as unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a worker within the workplace as follows:

  • In recruitment
  • Refusal to offer a job
  • The terms of a job offer
  • In a worker’s terms and conditions
  • When making decisions about promotion
  • In providing access to facilities and benefits, such as transfers, training and overtime
  • In carrying out disciplinary action
  • When making redundancies or deciding to dismiss
  • In providing post employment references

New Types of Discrimination

The Equality Act has now also introduced the concept of associative discrimination where an employer treats a worker less favourably because of his or her association with someone with a protected characteristic.  An example would be treating the carer of a disabled person less favourably.

In addition it can also include perception discrimination where an employer treats a worker less favourably because he or she is perceived to have a protected characteristic, even if he or she does not in fact have that characteristic.

Time Limits

It is very important to understand that discrimination claims must be brought within the Employment Tribunal within 3 months (this means 3 months less one day) of the less favourable treatment that is being complained about.  Sometimes, the less favourable treatment extends over a long period of time and can be described as a continuing course of conduct by the employer.  In this situation a claim of discrimination may be brought within 3 months less one day from the date on which the conduct ended.

Grievances & Equality Act Questions

In all discrimination complaints it is necessary to serve a written grievance before starting an Employment Tribunal claim or compensation maybe reduced by up to 25%, and to also send to the employer a questionnaire because any replies filed by the employer will be admissible as evidence in the Tribunal proceedings.  The questionnaire should ideally be served within 3 months of the date the discrimination took place or as quickly as possible afterwards but at the very latest within 28 days of the date when the Employment Tribunal claim was started.  The Employment Tribunal does have discretion to grant an extension but it is best to avoid having to seek an extension.

Making a Discrimination Claim

Claiming damages for discrimination in the Employment Tribunal, or even in Court, may seem daunting. But we’re here to help you understand the process, advise you whether you have a case, and stand up for your rights. Call 07736 809721 for further information, or use the Contact Form.

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