McPartland Solicitors discuss the key factors about employment law and discrimination at work.

Employment Law: Discrimination at Work

Fairness in the workplace is vital for a successful business. Regardless of individual circumstances, every employee should feel that there are equal job opportunities and fairness within their place of work. Unfortunately, some people may experience unfair treatment or discrimination throughout their career, due to characteristics such as their age, gender or disability.

Under the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful to discriminate against people at work and there’s a wide range of legislation and information available to help you understand and enforce your rights. Here, we outline what you need to know about discrimination in the workplace.

What is Workplace Discrimination?

Discrimination in the workplace occurs when an employee is treated unfavourably. There are a number of different types of discrimination that may take place including:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Marriage and Civil Partnership
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Pregnancy or Maternity

If you feel that you have been discriminated against, it will usually connect to one of more of the above characteristics. Whilst there are thousands of discrimination cases each year, it is illegal to discriminate when hiring or in the workplace.

What To Do If You Are Experiencing Discrimination at Work

In a perfect world, employees should feel comfortable to approach their employer with any issues relating to discrimination or unfair treatment, with the assurance that it will be taken seriously. However, this may not always be the case.  Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure your rights are protected and your employer is held accountable.

Before you report any discrimination, you should consider the following:

  • Remove the Emotion

    Whilst this may be difficult, you should attempt to remove the emotional elements of the situation and focus on specific issues, details and facts. For example, you can not simply say your manager doesn’t like you; you must be able to provide concrete facts.

  • Make A Record

    You should keep a record of the discriminatory behaviour with notes including time, date, location and details of anyone who witnessed the incident. You should also include a description of the situation.

  • Consider Alternative

    Occasionally, workplace discrimination may not be deliberate or conscious; instead, it may be a result of poor communication or management. You should first attempt to discuss the situation with your manager, making it clear you want to resolve the problem.

  • Report the Discrimination 

    Finally, if the behaviour continues, you should report it to your company’s management. They are under legal obligation to investigate the situation. While it is not easy to report it, it is important that you take action, otherwise, it is likely that nothing will change.

If you feel that you cannot complain directly to the person or organisation, you should consider asking someone else to help you sort it out. There are a number of organisations you can contact including Acas, Citizens Advice or a representative from a trade union. Additionally, you may be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal for discrimination. At this stage, you should consider getting advice from a solicitor, who will provide you with advice and guidance.

At H McPartland & Sons, our team of employment law specialists can help you if you are unsure of your employee rights. Our teams in Lisburn and Lurgan have an excellent track record of resolving disputes without the need for a tribunal, so you can reach a satisfactory resolution as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. Contact our offices in Lurgan or Lisburn and talk to a member of the team to find out how we can help you.