Following the introduction of the Equality Act in October 2010, discrimination has become a much more serious issue in the workplace. The Equality Act brought with it the potential for unlimited fines to be ordered at the employment tribunal if employers are proven to be guilty of discrimination. Employers can also face severe penalties if it can be shown that they did not have adequate measures or procedures in place to prevent discrimination in any capacity.
Employers need also be wary that the Equality Act protects workers at every stage of the employee/employer relationship and a claim for discrimination can be brought in relation to an interview, a period of contractual employment, or can form the grounds of a claim of unfair constructive dismissal.
The best method of protecting yourself and your employees is to be robust in your prevention of all forms of discrimination. An experienced employment law solicitor will be able to advise and assist you with putting such measures in place.
If you have been accused of direct discrimination, the penalties you can face if proven in an employment tribunal can be limitless. It is therefore imperative that you seek advice from an employment law solicitor at as early a stage as possible.
Preventing Discrimination and Promoting Diversity
Workplace discrimination can be categorised in three broad forms:
- Direct discrimination – this is defined as the act of treating employees less favourably than others on the grounds of sex, age, race, sexual orientation, disability, maternity or pregnancy
- Indirect discrimination – this relates to cases whereby a particular set of circumstances as imposed by the employer has an adverse effect on one group over others
- Harassment – legislation defines harassment as unwanted conduct that violates people’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment
In order to prevent discrimination in the workplace, employers need to not only have robust anti-discrimination policies in place, but need to take measures to ensure these policies are carried out at a practical level. Employers should also make an active effort to promote diversity in the workplace.