Anyone who discriminates against you in the workplace would be acting unlawfully and this includes if you are the victim of sex discrimination at work. Whether you are male or female, you cannot be discriminated against and if you are, you have the right to seek compensation by filing a sex discrimination claim against an employer and the person who acted in this way towards you.
To find out more about how to prove that you were discriminated against in the workplace and the definition of sex discrimination as stated in the law, please read on.
What is the Definition of Sex Discrimination?
The definition of sex discrimination as described in the Equality Act 2010 is as follows:
- Being treated unfairly because of your gender, whether you are a man or a woman
It is unlawful for you to be treated in the following situations which would be deemed as being sex discrimination:
- Training and employment
- When you provide services and/or goods – examples being if you work in transport, banking or entertainment to name but three
- If you work in the public sector – examples being in government departments, the NHS, police, local authorities and prisons
There are two types of sex discrimination which are as follows:
However, sex discrimination can also be victimisation and/or harassment. It is also worth noting that it does not have to be a deliberate act because even if a person does realise they are doing it, they may still be held accountable for their actions and behaviour towards you. In short, you may still be entitled to claim compensation by filing a sex discrimination at work claim.
Another important factor is that the law in the UK does not permit “positive discrimination” towards one specific sex. An example being that your employer must not insist on promoting or recruiting women for a specific job due to the fact that women have experienced discrimination in the past when they applied for a particular job. With this said, “positive discrimination” is different to “positive action” which is not unlawful.
The Law That Protects You From Sex Discrimination in the Workplace
The law relating to sex discrimination in the workplace also protects you from the following:
- Being discriminated against during pregnancy and during maternity leave
- Being discriminated against because you choose to change gender – gender reassignment
- Being discriminated against because you are in a civil partnership or you are married
- Being discriminated against because of your sexual orientation
What is Direct Sex Discrimination?
Direct sex discrimination refers to when you are treated less favourably than someone of another sex who is treated more favourably in the same situation. If you feel this to be the case, you would need to provide proof that someone who is not the same sex as you was treated a lot more favourably in similar working situations than you were. It is noteworthy that sexist abuse and harassment are deemed types of direct sex discrimination. Other examples of sex discrimination at work include the following:
- Being refused credit because you are a married woman and your husband’s signature is not on the application. A married man would not be required to have a wife’s signature when applying for credit
- Being refused a mortgage based on your salary because you are a woman
- Being charged more to enter a nightclub because you are a man
- Advertising for a position as a “waiter” which leads people to believe only men should apply
If you feel that you were treated in any of the ways as described above, you should contact a solicitor who specialises in sex discrimination at work claims who would provide essential legal advice on how best to proceed with a claim against the third party.
What is Indirect Sex Discrimination?
Indirect sex discrimination whether in the workplace or elsewhere covers the following:
Having a policy, rule or practice that puts someone of a specific sex at a disadvantage because they are less likely to achieve what is required of a job. Examples being as follows:
- Employers who ask all employees to work on a full-time basis. Many women employees need to care for younger children and/or dependant adults and as such would find it harder to work full-time than their male counterparts
- Mortgage providers who only offer mortgages to employees who work full-time. This could mean that a woman would be less likely to get a mortgage than a male counterpart because more women work on a part-time basis
A business, organisation, company or employer would need to show “good reason” for having a practice, policy or rule in place for it to be acceptable and not deemed sex discrimination. If you feel that you experienced sex discrimination in the workplace, you could be entitled to file a complaint and to seek compensation from the offending third party.
What is the Definition of Victimisation in the Workplace?
When you file a complaint relating to sex discrimination at work, it would be unlawful for anyone in the workplace to victimise you because you chose to do so. You cannot be treated unfairly for choosing to take your case to court or for taking your claim to an employment tribunal. You cannot be treated unfavourably for standing up for your “rights” in any way should you believe you were the victim of sex discrimination in the workplace. An employer cannot object to you seeking legal advice from a lawyer either.
The Law Regarding Sex Discrimination in Employment and Training
Your employer would be acting unlawfully if they discriminate against you in the workplace because of your sex. As an employee whether a trainee, agency worker or contractor, you are protected from sex discrimination in the workplace which covers the following areas of a working environment:
- Recruitment and selection
- Training, benefits and pay
- Terms and conditions of work
- Redundancy and dismissal
As previously mentioned, special rules are in place that protect pregnant women and women on maternity leave from being discriminated against in the workplace.
Who Is Protected by the Equality Act?
People who are in employment are protected from being discriminated against in the workplace by the Equality Act 2010 and this includes the following:
- A company’s employees
- Those who work through an agency
- Freelancers, self-employed people and contractors
- Those who do work experience or apprenticeships
- Directors and partners
The law protects people at all stages of their employment which includes the following:
- During recruitment
- When dismissed/fired from a job
Should you believe that you were discriminated against because of your sex at any stage of seeking employment or when you were working for an employer, you should gather as much evidence as you can and you should contact a sex discrimination at work lawyer sooner rather than later because of the short time limit associated with this type of claim.
The Law Regarding Equal Pay
The law regarding equal pay protects you from being discriminated against because of your sex and that you are therefore not receiving the same level of pay as someone of the opposite sex. To prove that you were discriminated against over the pay you receive, you would need to show the following:
- That you are doing the same or similar work as another person who is paid more than you
- That the work you do is rated as “equivalent” to that of the other person in a job evaluation study
- That the work you do is of equal value to the work of the other person – an example being that the same skill, effort and decisions that have to be made are the same or similar
If you think you are not receiving equal pay, you should contact a solicitor who would investigate your claim before recommending what would be the best course of action to take to resolve the problem.
Am I Protected Discrimination at Work if I Have Caring Responsibilities?
An employer would be acting unlawfully if they chose to discriminate against you at work because you have caring responsibilities. Under the law, you are protected should your caring responsibilities include the following:
- You look after your child or children
- You care for an elderly adult
- You care for a disabled person
Your employer would be acting unlawfully and it would be deemed sex discrimination in the workplace should they refuse to allow you to work flexible hours so that you can carry out caring responsibilities and this includes the following:
- Allowing you to work fewer hours or different hours
- Allowing you to work part-time
- Allowing you to work a “job-share”
- Allowing you to start work later so that you can take a child or children either to nursery or school
- Allowing you to take time off work to go to appointments at a hospital with the person you care for
If you care for a child or an adult who is disabled, you may also be entitled to file a disability discrimination claim against an employer as well as a sex discrimination claim which in law is referred to as disability discrimination by association.
When it is Legal For an Employer to Treat Employees Less Favourably Because of Their Sex?
An employer would need to show that a job can only be done by someone of a particular sex in order to employ a person of that sex which is referred to as being an “occupational requirement”. If this is the case, it would not be deemed sex discrimination. An example being when recruiting women to work as counsellors in a refuge that caters solely for women in need.
Is Sex Discrimination if I Am Treated Unfairly Because of Gender Reassignment?
An employer would be acting unlawfully if they discriminate you at work because you choose to undergo gender reassignment whether you intend to do so or have already done so. It is worth noting that you do not have to be undergoing any sort of medical treatment if you feel that you are being discriminated against in the workplace and that you have the choice to take your case to court or to an employment tribunal.
An example of sex discrimination at work relating to gender reassignment being as follows:
- A transsexual woman being asked for her Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) when showing proof to an employer that her name has changed and as such requests that her records be changed too. Providing she is able to show some proof of her name change, the woman should not have to provide a GRC to an employer. Should her employer ask for further proof of a name change than they would normally request from another employee, this could be deemed as being sex discrimination in the workplace
Is There a Time Limit to Filing a Sex Discrimination Claim Against an Employer?
Under UK law, there are strict time limits associated with discrimination claims which includes sex discrimination in the workplace claims. The statutory time limit is 3 months less 1 day from the last time you were discriminated against in the workplace. This is the time you have to make a sex discrimination claim against an employer. Because of the short time limit, seeking legal advice as soon as possible is essential because even a valid sex discrimination at work claim can be lost if you hesitate for too long.
You have to adhere to a specific early conciliation process through ACAS which is mandatory before you can file a sex discrimination claim through an employment tribunal. It is also noteworthy, that the discriminatory actions against you could have occurred over a period should it be a policy, practice or rule that is set in place by an employer, company or organisation. Should this be the case, the time limit of 3 months minus 1 day would begin from the last time you were discriminated against at work because of your sex.
It is also worth noting that an employment tribunal has discretion when it comes to permitting sex discrimination claims from being filed later that the statutory time limit, but you would have to show good reason for not having made a sex discrimination claim in a timely manner.
Can An Employer be Held Liable for Sex Discrimination in the Workplace?
An employer can be deemed liable for sex discrimination in the workplace should you have been directly or indirectly discriminated against. Your employer could also be held liable should the action of discrimination have been committed by a work colleague, other employee or person. You should seek legal advice from an experienced lawyer because you may also be entitled to seek damages not only from your employer, but from the person who discriminated against you at work because of your sex too.
How Do I File a Sex Discrimination at Work Claim Against My Employer?
If you believe you were subjected to sex discrimination at work or you were harassed in the workplace because of your sex, you should seek legal advice at the earliest possibility. The reason being there is a strict statutory 3 months less 1 day to do so and there is a specific procedure that must be followed before you can take your case to an Employment Tribunal. The procedure to follow is:
- Raise a grievance with your employer which can be informal to start with
- Raise a formal grievance should you not have been able to resolve the problem in an informal manner. The formal grievance can be made in writing and upon receipt of your letter, your employer should arrange for you to attend a meeting to discuss your complaint and concerns about the sex discrimination you experienced in the workplace
- If you are not happy with the outcome after having gone through the informal and formal grievance procedure which includes any appeals, you then have the option to take your sex discrimination at work claim to an employment tribunal but it is mandatory that you go through the ACAS early conciliation scheme first
Discussing your case with an experienced solicitor would also help establish whether you could claim constructive dismissal if you had to resign from your position due to the fact you were discriminated against at work because of your sex.
What Would an Employment Tribunal Do if I Claim Sex Discrimination at Work?
Having followed the procedure and the ACAS early conciliation scheme, your sex discrimination at work claim would be heard by an employment tribunal where it could be dealt with in one of three ways as follows:
- A declaration – this states the rights of all parties concerned
- Awarding compensation
- Recommending that an employer take specific steps to reduce or remove any effects relating to the discrimination
What Damages Can I Recover in a Sex Discrimination Claim Against an Employer?
Apart from the financial losses you incurred, there are 3 bands of compensation guidelines which are referred to as the “Vento” guidelines. These have been set in place by the Court of Appeal and are based on the seriousness of any specific case.
- Top Band – the compensation awarded for extremely serious cases of sex discrimination at work is between £26,300 to £44,000 bearing in mind that the amount awarded could exceed the top figure in exceptional cases
- Middle band – the amount that may be awarded could be between £8,800 to £26,300
- Lower band – the compensation awarded for less serious cases, examples being isolated or one-off incidents of sex discrimination in the workplace, the amount that may be awarded could be between £900 and £8,800
How Do I Prove Sex Discrimination at Work?
It would be up to you to prove you were discriminated against in the workplace because of your sex if you choose to claim compensation from an employer or other third party. You would have to prove your employer discriminated against you “on the balance of probabilities”. In short, an employment tribunal may have some doubts as to whether your employer discriminated against you because of your sex but providing more than half of the tribunal believes discrimination against you occurred, it must be decided in your favour and your employer would be deemed liable.
Would a Solicitor Work on a No Win No Fee Basis on My Sex Discrimination Claim Against an Employer?
When it comes to sex discrimination in the workplace claims, this can be a complex and extremely sensitive area of employment law. A solicitor who boasts vast experience in handling this type of claim for employees and workers, understands the complexities involved and they are fully versed when it comes to negotiating with employers and insurers on your behalf.
An experienced lawyer would also be in the best position when it comes to submitting your claim to an Employment Tribunal. With this in mind, a solicitor would also be able to negotiate a much higher level of sex discrimination at work compensation for you than if you had no legal representation at all.
No Win No Fee lawyers take on accident at work and personal injury claims when they are sure there is a strong chance the case would be upheld and this includes when cases are heard through an Employment Tribunal. No Win No Fee agreements were set in place to allow all those injured in the workplace and elsewhere, the chance to seek the compensation they would not otherwise be able to afford because the cost of having legal representation is so high.
You would be asked to sign a CFA (Conditional Fee Agreement) which permits a solicitor to start investigating your claim without the need of asking for an upfront fee or retainer. There would be no ongoing fees to find either as your case progresses. The only time you have to pay the “success fee” that is laid out in the contract, is when you are awarded the compensation for the sex discrimination at work you had to endure. Should you lose your claim, you would not have to pay the success fee to the solicitor who represented you in your sex discrimination at work claim against an employer.
If you would like more advice on sex discrimination in the workplace and how to go about proving and filing a claim, please follow the link below:
To find out more about the Equality ACT 2010, please click on the link below: