Discrimination is a term used to describe an incident or series of incidents which result in a person being treated less favourably than someone else because they have a protected characteristic. The Equality Act 2010 sets out the protected characteristics as:
- Religion or similar belief
- Sexual Orientation
- Gender Reassignment
- Marriage or Civil Partnership
- Pregnancy and Maternity
Under the Equality Act discriminatory treatment happens in a number of ways:
- Direct Discrimination: when you make a direct decision on the basis of one of these characteristics. For example, choosing not to hire someone because they are ‘too young’.
- Discrimination by Perception: when you treat someone less favourably because you perceive that they have a protected characteristic.
- Discrimination by Association: when you treat someone less favourably because they are associated with someone who has a protected characteristic. For example not promoting an employee because they have a disabled relative and you perceive this will lead to time off work.
- Indirect Discrimination: When you apply a practice equally to a group but it has the effect (even unintentionally) of putting someone with a protected characteristic at a disadvantage.
- Failure to make a reasonable adjustment: particularly relevant to disabled persons the Equality Act 2010 requires you to remove barriers where it is reasonable to do so.
- Harassment: when someone is bullied or treated in an inappropriate manner based on their protected characteristic.
- Victimisation: When someone lodges a complaint or grievance for discrimination and is then treated less favourably as a result of this.
In order to protect your organisation from such claims; which can be unlimited in terms of compensation. It is important that you ensure your managers are trained fully and confident with your equality and diversity policy. If you find yourself at tribunal the burden of proof would fall to your organisation to prove that the discrimination did not happen (as opposed to the employee having to prove it did). Contact us now to discuss how we can help you ensure your policies are adhered to and protect you.