Discrimination, bullying and harassment at work

Work environments should be a setting which promote positive behaviour rather than cause distress. Being discriminated against is not only unfair but unlawful under the Equality Act 2010. To be discriminated against is to be treated unfairly, bullied and/or harassed due to the following:

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

Protection from discrimination applies to the self-employed, agency workers, partners, job applicants and employees and does not require any qualifying service.

Keys points to note where discrimination is suspected:

  • What is the reason for the unlawful treatment? It can only be discrimination if it is for the one of the reasons given above
  • How is the treatment unfair? There are different types of unlawful discrimination depending on the circumstances of each case
  • There are defences an employer can rely on such as business need and the reasonable steps they have already taken with policies, training and the like to prevent the unlawful behaviour
  • Strict time limits apply to the issue of Tribunal proceedings

Bullying and Harassment can still be unlawful even if the behaviour is not discrimination and claims can be brought in the County Court under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 or in the Employment Tribunal for constructive unfair dismissal.

Bullying and harassment can include:

  • Offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour involving the misuse of power
  • Physical or psychological threats
  • Overbearing levels of supervision
  • Inappropriate derogatory remarks about performance

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