Discriminated because of your sexuality? You may have an Employment Tribunal Claim – Know your rights!

Discriminated because of your sexuality? You may have an Employment Tribunal Claim – Know your rights!

If you have been faced with homophobic or transphobic comments from your employer or co-worker, it is important to understand that the law is on your side. The Equality Act 2010 provides a firm legal protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation, and you may have grounds for an employment tribunal claim.

Understanding Your Rights

The Equality Act 2010 provides employees with protection against discriminatory acts from employers based on sexual orientation or gender reassignment. This means that if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, you have the legal right to work in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

There are various discrimination claims you can bring against your employer, with the most common ones being Direct Discrimination, Indirect Discrimination, Harassment and Victimisation.

How do I know if the treatment I have suffered amounts to discrimination?

This is often the crux of discrimination claims, as there aren’t any set rules to qualify what discriminatory behaviour actually is.

As a rule, if you believe that you have been treated differently when comparing to another co-worker in a similar situation, but with a different sexual orientation, this is likely to amount to Direct Discrimination.

Discriminated because of your sexuality?

Inappropriate comments or remarks are also likely to be classed as Direct Discrimination. As an example, in the case of Austin v Samuel Grant (North East) Ltd, a heterosexual male employee won a sexual orientation claim. In this case, the Claimant’s colleagues had asked him whether or not he liked football, to which the Claimant stated that he was not interested. His colleagues then stated “you are gay then”.

Even if you are treated exactly the same as other colleagues who have a different sexual orientation, this may still be classed as Indirect Discrimination. This would happen when your employer has a particular policy or way of working that applies equally to everyone, but which puts people of a particular characteristic at a disadvantage.

What about “Banter” in the workplace?

In the recent case of Mrs M Fleming v McGill Facilities Management Ltd, the Claimant had asked her employer about the seating arrangements in the new office space, and was told that it was ‘boy-girl-boy-girl’. The Claimant pointed out that this was inappropriate, and instead requested to be near a colleague with whom she previously worked closely. She was then told by her employer that “you dykes sit at the top”.

The Claimant then resigned and made a claim for Constructive Unfair Dismissal and Sexual Orientation Discrimination, and the employer was ordered to pay a total of £15,460 in compensation.

This particular case comes as The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 is due to come into force in October 2024. The amendment on the act places a new, positive obligation on employers to take ‘reasonable steps’ in all cases to prevent sexual harassment of its employees during the course of their employment.

Steps to Take

If you believe that you have been discriminated against by your employer, it is essential to take the following actions:

  1. Keep a detailed record of incidents, including dates, times, locations, what was said and whether there were any witnesses.

  2. Report the issue to your employer through their internal grievance procedure.

  3. Seek legal advice. At Lawson-West, we have a dedicated employment law team specialising in Discrimination claims, and we will be able to advise you on your options.

How we can help

If you believe that you have suffered unfair treatment due to your conditions from your employer, we can help you. We may be able to offer you a No Win No Fee agreement, and we also provide a variety of other funding arrangements to assist you with pursuing a claim.

Our Employment Law team is well-versed and experienced in Discrimination matters, therefore, if you believe you have been treated unfairly by your employer due to your sexual orientation, do not hesitate to contact Lawson-West Solicitors. Please contact us on telephone 0116 212 1000 or alternatively fill in the free Contact Us form and we will get in touch as soon as possible.

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