Workplace Discrimination Law, 10 Things Your Must Know
Written by Geoff Newman on 4/11/2011
1. You do not need to be employed to bring a discrimination case
The Equality Act 2010 was designed to protect job applicants) who may never commence work) and previous workers who are, for example, given a poor reference.
Genuinely self-employed people are also protected (so long as they perform the work of the end user). Agency and contract workers are similarly protected.
2. A disability that seriously affects work performance does not necessarily render a worker “disabled” under the Equality Act
The “impairement” from which a disabled worker suffers must have a “substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out day-to-day activities.” A tribunal will therefore focus on whether someone is able to carry out day-to-day activities or not.
3. Employers can be liable for the harassment of their clients or customers
Employers must take “reasonably practicable steps” to prevent a third party from harassing one of it workers during the course of their employment.
4. Discrimination claimants do not need to have a protected characteristic
For example if a worker is treated less favorably because her partner is black, this is direct discrimination even thought they do not ‘own’ the protected characteristic.
5. It is unlawful to refuse to appoint a temporary worker who is specifically recruit for maternity cover because her own pregnancy will prevent her from doing this
Pregnant workers are protected from “unfavorable” treatment during the “protected period.”
6. Any written question concerning discrimination can be a discrimination questionnaire
If you are issued with a discrimination questionnaire the questions should be answered within a certain timeframe and in a professional manner to show the employer takes the matter seriously. Failure to do so will result in an adverse inference in subsequent litigation.
7. Intention has little to do with discrimination
Employers may be intend to discriminate. Such assertions may be pointless. A tribunal will review whether the discrimination occurred or not.
8. It is always possible to defend a claim of age discrimination
In case of direct age discrimination, an employer can always argue that the treatment was proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
9. Disabled workers do not have an automatic right to adjustments in the workplace
Employers do have a duty to make reasonable adjustments, but only where the workplace puts them at a “significant disadvantage.”
10. An equal-pay claimant can compare pay to someone doing a totally different job
The Equality Act provides that workers are entitled to equal pay for similar work or work of “equal value.”