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As an employer, you must comply with anti-discrimination duties and ensure equality of opportunities and treatment in the workplace.

The Equality Act 2010 protects individuals against discrimination based on a “protected characteristic.” Protected characteristics include gender, race, maternity, pregnancy and maternity, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age, gender reassignment and marriage and civil partnership. As an employer, you will be liable for your actions and behaviour, and may also be accountable for the discriminatory conduct of an employee in the course of their employment, irrespective of whether such actions were carried out with your knowledge or approval as their employer.

Types of Workplace Discrimination

Having an awareness of the types of workplace discrimination is an important starting point to understanding your duties and complying with your responsibilities as an employer:

  • Direct Discrimination: occurs when someone is treated less favourably because of an actual or perceived protected characteristic, for example their gender or age, or by virtue of their association with a protected characteristic, for example because of their partner’s religion or disability.
  • Indirect Discrimination: a policy, practice or decision may have the effect of disadvantaging a particular group of people that share a protected characteristic, irrespective of any good intentions underpinning the practice or decision. Unless the action can be shown to be proportionate to the means of achieving a legitimate aim, and appropriate and necessary when balanced against the disadvantage suffered, it will be deemed to amount to indirect discrimination.
  • Harassment: Harassment is unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic that has the purpose or effect of either violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive working environment for them.
  • Victimisation: a person may be victimised for undertaking or participating in a protected act, for example, making a claim or complaint relating to discrimination under the Equality Act, or giving evidence in support of another person’s complaint or claim. Victimisation occurs when a person is subjected to detrimental treatment or a disadvantage as a result of undertaking a protected act.

Discrimination Law Advice in Edinburgh and London

At MBM Commercial, we provide pragmatic and holistic advice on all aspects of Discrimination Law in the context of employment, from recruitment and HR matters, to the design and introduction of employment policies and procedures compliant with Equality Law, workplace measures and practices intended to prevent discrimination claims, and equal opportunities and anti-discrimination training. We offer tailored advice on the impact of new and existing anti-discrimination laws and identify what this means for your business in practice. If a discrimination claim does arise, we will represent your best interests by providing a robust defence, and advise you of the likelihood of success, the potential for wasted management time or financial penalties that may be incurred as a result of defending a claim. We believe that dialogue is a vital aspect underpinning effective management and employee-employer relationships. As such, we will pursue alternative dispute resolution, including mediation and negotiation, before seeking to defend your position if a claim is brought before an employment tribunal.

Our Employment Law Solicitors frequently advise businesses on equalities legislation and the steps employers should consider taking to mitigate or avoid potential discrimination claims. Unlike unfair dismissal claims, discrimination, harassment and victimisation claims are not subject to a statutory cap. It is, therefore, essential to seek expert Employment Law advice sooner rather than later. We believe that the best defence against potential discrimination claims is establishing fair and compliant working practices and procedures, creating a harmonious and unbiased workplace environment.

Contact our Employment Solicitors & HR Support Team Edinburgh & London For Employment Law advice specific to your duties as an employer under equalities legislation

Our Employment Law team are experts in Discrimination Law; we will apply our in-depth knowledge and years of experience to your specific circumstances and tailor our advice to guarantee a service that meets your needs. We provide strategic and practical advice to help you overcome and address what can often seem like an insurmountable challenge.

If you need advice on how to avoid potential discrimination claims or require assistance defending a discrimination claim or complaint, please contact us on 0845 345 5004 or fill out our online contact form.

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