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Advice for Employers on Workplace Discrimination

Discrimination law is a complex area of employment law. As an employer it can be time consuming to keep up to date with this complicated issue, as well as costly if you get it wrong.

Even the best employers can make mistakes from time to time and discrimination can occur at any time from recruitment, through the whole employment relationship and even after it has ended, whether you are aware of it or not.

There is no limit on the amount of compensation that can be awarded for unlawful discrimination by an Employment Tribunal. A discrimination claim is also a significant risk for employers in terms of management time dealing with the claim and potential reputational damage.

Knowing your legal responsibilities as an employer under discrimination law is important both to preventing discrimination in the workplace from arising and to knowing how to investigate and resolve discrimination issues when they do occur.

Discrimination awareness

Anti-Discrimation legislation law sets out how employers cannot discriminate on various grounds, including on gender over pay: 

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers have a legal obligation to treat their employees (including former employees) and job applicants fairly. Employers cannot discriminate, harass or victimise on the grounds of:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marital or civil partnership status
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex, or
  • Sexual orientation

 Collectively these are known as ‘protected characteristics’ and it is unlawful to discriminate against someone on one of these grounds.

While discrimination can be intentional, often it is unintentional. However, the fact it was unintentional is not a defence against a claim of discrimination.

Equal pay is a specific and complex area of anti-discrimination law and our experienced Employment Law Solicitors can advise you if you are facing an equal pay claim, whether you are a private or public sector employer. 

With new obligations on private employers with 250 or more employees to start publishing gender pay gap statistics, there will be greater scrutiny of employers by employees and potential job applicants.  We can help advise and guide you through the new requirements and identify the issues raised by a gender pay gap and the steps you can take to eliminate it.   

How can Thorntons help?

Our specialist Employment Law Solicitors will work with you on ways to combat discrimination in the workplace and in responding to any allegations of discrimination from an employee if they do arise.

We provide training for organisations about equality and anti-discrimination law, and can review policies to ensure they are equality-friendly. We also help businesses by preparing and implementing staff policies for combating discrimination in the workplace, such as anti-bullying and harassment, equal opportunities and maternity/paternity leave. In addition, we will also make sure you and, where relevant, your HR team, are completely up to speed with changes in the law and that your systems and procedures comply.

If, as an employer, you find yourself in the position of having an accusation or claim of discrimination levelled against you, our specialist lawyers can provide advice on the action to take.

In most employment situations taking legal advice early on can often stop the situation from escalating and will save you time and money later. With our proactive and commercial advice, Thorntons Employment Law team can help find the right solution for you over workplace discrimination issues. Give one of our team a call on 03330 430 350 , or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you.