Sexual Orientation Discrimination at Work

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It is against the law in England and Wales for anyone at work to discriminate against you because of your sexual orientation. You don’t have to put up with it.

Our specialist Employment Law Solicitors have many years of experience in helping people bring discrimination claims against their employers and we can help you too.

If you’ve been harassed, discriminated against or victimised at work you could make a claim.

We can help you to understand your legal position and decide what your next steps should be, including your options for funding your claim.

Time limits to make a workplace discrimination claim are tight, so get in touch with our Employment Law Solicitors for initial legal advice as soon as possible.

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More Information on Sexual Orientation Discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 gave protection under the law for a number of Protected Characteristics and someone’s sexual orientation is one of those.

In the Equality Act, it defines what sexual orientation is and it’s:

  • Attraction towards people of the same sex (gay or lesbian)
  • Attraction towards people of the opposite sex (straight or heterosexual)
  • Attraction towards people of the same sex and the opposite sex (bi or bisexual).

The law applies to everyone – Gay, lesbian, bisexual or straight and discrimination due to your sexual orientation can happen in the recruitment process, during your employment and even after termination of employment.

There are four types of sexual orientation discrimination. They are:

  • Direct Discrimination – This has been broken down into three more parts and include treating someone less favourably because of their sexual orientation, their perceived sexual orientation or the sexual orientation of someone they are associated with
  • Indirect Discrimination – This is where a practice, policy or rule at work which applies to everyone, but puts you at a disadvantage because of your sexual orientation. A good example of this would be not applying the same maternity or paternity policies for same sex couples
  • Harassment – Having unwanted conduct which violates your dignity or creates a hostile, degrading, intimidating or offensive environment for you
  • Victimisation – Having a disadvantage or suffering from loss, harm or damage due to making a claim for sexual orientation discrimination or supporting a sexual orientation discrimination claim made by another worker.

Each of these types of discrimination at work allow you to make a claim against your employer and potentially against the individual who is discriminating against you at work.

Making a Claim for Sexual Orientation Discrimination

If the discrimination at work is happening to you because of your sexual orientation and this can be proven, then you can make a claim.

You should start by reviewing your employer’s policies and procedures to see if they have anything specifically relating to discrimination at work.

In the meantime, you should speak to your HR Department if there is one or your line manager. If they are the person who is treating you less favourably, speak to your manager’s manager.

If you don’t feel that the informal approach has worked for you, you should formally raise a grievance. Your employer should have a grievance policy and procedures in place.

Again, if you are not satisfied with the outcome of the grievance procedure you can make a claim against your employer at an Employment Tribunal for discrimination.

What You Need to Know About Making a Claim

The time limits for bringing a sexual orientation discrimination claim are short. You only have three months from the date of the incident, or from the last act in a series of acts and that can include for three months after you leave your employment.

Getting legal advice from a specialist Employment Law Solicitor early on will give you the best chance of making a successful claim.

Unlike some other types of employment law claims, you don’t need to have worked for your employer for two years. You can make a workplace discrimination claim with no length of service restrictions.

You will need to complete the Early Conciliation process with ACAS before you can make a claim at an Employment Tribunal. This doesn’t impact on the time limits for making a claim though, because the time limits are paused whilst you and your employer try to reach an agreement. If this process is not successful, you then can take your claim to the Employment Tribunal.

If the Employment Tribunal decides in your favour, they will also decide how much compensation you will receive. This can include any loss of earnings and also damages for injury to feelings.

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