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Career Advice

Experiencing Discrimination in the Workplace? Know Your Legal Rights

legal scalesYou have a legal right to work without facing discriminatory practices from your employer or colleagues, but having that right observed may not be easy. Taking on your employers, and all the resources at their disposal, may seem like an almost impossible task, but if you genuinely feel that you are being discriminated against in the workplace, expert employment lawyers can help. The first step to enforcing your rights, however, is to identify whether or not you are the victim of discrimination at work in the eyes of the law.

What Types of Discrimination Does the Law Recognise?

It is against the law for your employers to discriminate against you for any of the following reasons:

  • Your gender

  • Your marital status

  • A disability

  • Your sexual orientation

  • Your sex, including a change of sex

  • Your religion

  • Your race

  • Your pregnancy

All of these forms of discrimination are against the law according to the Equality Act 2010, which covers workplaces, educational establishments and private clubs and associations. They are known as ‘protected characteristics’.

How Do You Know You Are the Victim of Discrimination?

If you are being treated less favourably than your colleagues on the basis of one of the ‘protected characteristics’, you may be able to claim direct discrimination. Indirect discrimination may be at play if your employer has put into effect rules and regulations for everyone that put you at a distinct disadvantage. Discrimination also covers harassment in the workplace, as well as victimisation based on one of the ‘protected characteristics’.

What Is Protected Against Discrimination?

You have several legal provisions to rely on when it comes to discrimination, including protection from being dismissed on discriminatory grounds. Other areas of your professional life that are protected include your terms and conditions, your pay and benefits, your training, redundancy procedures and your opportunities for career advancement.

If you suffer with a disability, the law states that employers must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to help you in the workplace. In reality, these may include provisions such as training manuals in braille, being given extra time to complete certain tasks and making physical modifications to the work premises for easy wheelchair access. Exactly what is deemed ‘reasonable’ is not specified in law, but seeking expert employment law advice will help you to determine whether or not an employer’s failure to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ constitutes a form of discrimination.

What Can You Do If you’re Being Discriminated Against?

The first thing you should do if you believe you’re the victim of workplace discrimination is to raise the matter with your employer. You can also ask employment lawyers to raise the issue on your behalf – before proceedings are taken to a more formal stage. However, if you can’t find a resolution, you may be left with no other alternative than to make a claim at an employment tribunal.

Taking on your employer through the tribunal process can be a daunting prospect. There are initial claim forms to complete, tribunal fees to pay, evidence to gather and the tribunal itself – which is presided over by a judge. You may also be asked to attend an initial pre-hearing meeting with your employers’ representatives and the judge present.

Enlisting the help of an employment solicitor will mean you have advice and guidance to rely on during every stage of your claim. Whether you are looking for compensation or you’re simply demanding a stop to the discrimination you’re experiencing, putting your case in the hands of professionals will give you the best chance of success.



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