What are the types of discrimination in the workplace?
Under the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful for an employer to: discriminate against an employee, job applicant or trainee because of one or more of the following protected characteristics:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Race, religion or belief
- and sexual orientation.
What constitutes discrimination at work?
There are two types of discrimination: direct and indirect.
When different treatment in the workplace is overt, that is direct discrimination. These are examples of direct discrimination:
- An employer advertises a job but refuses to recruit a woman.
- A manager is unpleasant towards a disabled employee because they are unable to perform certain tasks.
- An employee is not invited to company events due to their sexual orientation.
- Somebody in the workplace is bullied by their colleagues due to their nationality.
Indirect discrimination is when an employer treats an employee or a group of employees unfairly in a less outward way. This could be due to the policies they have in place.
A company policy that prohibits flexible working hours is an example of indirect discrimination. This policy will have a worse effect on women than men as women are statistically more likely to be managing childcare.
If an employer puts in place a policy that states all employees must work weekend shifts, this could indirectly discriminate against certain groups. Employees with religious needs and those with young children would find it difficult or impossible to comply.