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Discrimination

Discrimination questionnaire, The Equality Act 2010 - Discrimination and Other Prohibited Conduct - Questions and Answers Forms.


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What is Sex Discrimination?
The main source of law on sex discrimination is the Sex Discrimination Act.

However, it is in the area of sex discrimination that the European law has had most impact.

From its outset, the European Community had an equality section in its treaty (the Treaty of Rome).

Since that time, the European Community (now Union) have also promulgated the Equal Treatment Directive, the Pregnant Workers Directive and many binding decisions of the European Court of Justice.

In summary, the combination of the European law and the UK law means:

  • It is unlawful to discriminate either directly or indirectly on grounds of sex.
  • It is unlawful in employment to discriminate against a woman on grounds of pregnancy or for a pregnancy related matter.
  • It is unlawful in employment to discriminate against a transsexual.
  • It is possible to make a legal challenge under the equal pay provisions when not receiving the same pay and doing the same work or work of equal value.

What is Race Discrimination?
The Race Relations Act deals with discrimination, not prejudice. It is concerned with people's actions and the effects of their actions, not their intentions. Prejudice literally means 'pre-judging' someone - knowing next to nothing about them but jumping to conclusions because of some characteristic, like their appearance.

Discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably because of that characteristic - in the case of racial discrimination because of their racial, national or ethnic origins.

Racism is the belief that some 'races' are superior to others - based on the false idea that different physical characteristics (like skin colour) or ethnic background make some people better than others.


What is Religious Discrimination?
Religious discrimination in employment and related situations is treating someone less favourably on the grounds of religion or belief. This became unlawful from 2 December 2003.


What Is Sexual Orientation Discrimination?
Discrimination against someone on the grounds of their sexual orientation became unlawful on December 1st 2003. It occurs when someone is treated less favourably because of their sexual orientation.


What is Direct Discrimination?
Direct Discrimination applies to Sex, Race, Religion or Belief and Sexual Orientation Discrimination. The DDA is different and will be dealt with separately.

Direct discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably on any of the above grounds than other people are, or would be, treated in similar circumstances.

When someone is segregated from others on racial grounds, this is also direct discrimination. Abuse and harassment are also unlawful direct discrimination if they occur in circumstances covered by the Acts and Directives.


What is Indirect Discrimination?
Indirect Discrimination applies on the same grounds as Direct Discrimination, but not to the DDA.

Indirect discrimination occurs when a condition or requirement is applied equally to people of all racial groups or to all people regardless of sex, to all people regardless of religion belief or sexual orientation, but many fewer people of a particular group or sex are able to comply with it. Such indirect discrimination is unlawful when it cannot be justified other than on the grounds detailed above.


What is Victimisation?
It is also unlawful under the SDA, RRA, the Regulations on Religion, the Regulations on Sexual Orientation and the DDA to treat someone less favourably than others, because they have taken a case of discrimination, or given evidence relating to a case, or alleged that discrimination has occurred.


Rights under the Acts
If you think you have been discriminated against at work on the grounds mentioned, you have the right under the various Acts and Regulations to take your employer to the employment tribunal. You also have the right when you do that to name other employees, e.g. managers, in the application.

If you think you have been discriminated against outside of employment, you have to take your case to a County Court (in England and Wales) or Sheriff Court (in Scotland) if covered by the legislation.

Transsexuals in respect of the employment provisions are covered by the Sex Discrimination Act.


Who is covered?
The Sex Discrimination, Race Relations Acts, Religion or Belief Regulation and the Sexual Orientation Regulation cover all employers, no matter how small or large, all employees, and all aspects of employment, including recruitment, selection, promotion, transfer, training, pay and benefits, redundancy, dismissal and hours of work. However, there are a number of exceptions to the Act.

The biggest exception is if you are applying for a job where race, religion, sexual orientation or sex is a 'genuine occupational qualification' for part or all of the job.

Discrimination will not be unlawful if it is done to comply with an Act of Parliament, or the orders of a government minister.

It should be noted that the DDA at present only applies in employment to employers with 15 or more employees.


Who is not protected by Discrimination Law?

Many of the Disabled
The DDA only applies in employment to employers with 15 or more employees. Employees are therefore not protected by the DDA if their employer has less than 15 employees.

Lesbians and Gay Men
Lesbians and Gay Men are not protected at present for matters outside employment and related situations.

Religion
Apart from Northern Ireland, it is not unlawful to discriminate against people on the basis of their religion outside of employment though discrimination on the grounds of religion may constitute race discrimination. Jews and Sikhs are defined as racial or national groups and enjoy the protection of the Race Relations Act. It must also be remembered that it is now legal precedent that religious discrimination may constitute indirect discrimination.

Politics
Discrimination on the grounds of political belief in not covered by legislation except in Northern Ireland.


Update

Age Discrimination

Please click here to see the new rules around age discrimination, and how it is now illegal to discriminate against someone for a job because they are too young or too old.