As an employee, you have the right not to be subjected to discriminatory behaviour in the work place. If you are treated less favourably or bullied at work by your employer or even a colleague then you may be able to bring a claim.

What is discrimination?

You may be able to bring legal action against your employer if you have been treated less favourably on any of the following grounds: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

Discrimination can be direct, for example, where an employee is refused a higher salary because she is female or it can be indirect where for example an employer decides that all employees must not wear any head-wear which would indirectly discriminate against Sikh men.

It is also unlawful to subject an individual to unwanted conduct on any of the above grounds, which amounts to harassment, or to victimise a person for either bringing or contemplating a claim under any discrimination legislation or for helping someone else to bring a claim.

Disability discrimination

The law says that 'disability' is a physical or mental impairment, which has a substantial and long-term negative effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. According to this definition, impairments can include sensory impairments, such as sight and hearing, and conditions that can worsen over time such as multiple scleroses and HIV/AIDS, which are regarded as a disability as soon as they are diagnosed, even before they start to affect your day-to-day activities.

Less favourable treatment on the grounds of any disability can amount to discrimination but it can also be discriminatory if an employer fails to make reasonable adjustments for a disabled employee. Examples of what is reasonable might include making physical adjustments to the premises, supplying special equipment to help you do your job or transferring you to a different post or work place. Failure to make such adjustments, when it is reasonable for your employer to do so, could lead to indirect disability discrimination.

This will however, require you disclosing your condition to your employer.

Bringing a claim and time limits

If you feel that you are the victim of discriminatory behaviour, you have a right to bring a claim before the Employment Tribunal. However, before you do this you must submit a written grievance to your employer and wait 28 days otherwise the tribunal will not register your claim. This is irrespective of whether any action is taken by your employer in relation to the grievance.

The grievance has to be in writing and must be submitted to your employer within three months from the last incident of discrimination. However, it is advisable that you do not wait that long and present the grievance as soon as possible as, generally, discrimination claims must be brought within three months from the last incident of discriminatory behaviour. This can be extended by three months, after the submission of the grievance, but only at the sole discretion of the Tribunal.

What are the remedies?

If your claim is successful, the potential remedies are compensation or recommendation to remedy the harm. Compensation can comprise loss of earnings and an award for injury to feelings. Awards are unlimited and can potentially be very high.

If you feel that you are being discriminated against, whether it is on the grounds of your age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation, then please to not hesitate to contact our experienced team of solicitors who can offer a friendly, sensitive service.