Kate Brooks

Partner, Solicitor & Head of Employment/HR Services

DATE PUBLISHED: 05 Oct 2017 LAST UPDATED: 12 May 2022

Can an employer ask about your sexuality?

An employer is not expressly prohibited from asking about a potential employee’s sexuality. 

The question of sexuality can be a really positive one at the interview stage, but only if the employer is asking the question for the right reasons. In fact some studies have shown that not asking about sexuality in monitoring forms is actually a repellent to some candidates. Including sexual orientation in a monitoring form demonstrates that an organisation has sexuality and gender on their radar for positive reasons. The question should only ever be asked in order that the employer can monitor and ensure equality and well-being, and employers should have clear and defined confidentiality and data protection policies in place to protect and safeguard this information.

How to tell if an employer is using sexuality to discriminate?

There are many ways employers can ask about sexuality without a discriminating agenda, on the other hand, it is without doubt that an employer should not be using a person’s sexuality as a criterion to decide whether they are the correct candidate. 

To do so would be unlawful and in breach of discrimination legislation. An example of this is: Mr H applied to run Mr B’s pub. Mr B asked Mr H if he had a wife or girlfriend, when Mr H disclosed that he was gay, Mr B stated that there was “no way” he would employ a gay couple as it would be disastrous for his business. The tribunal found this was direct discrimination and awarded compensation to Mr H which ultimately put Mr B out of business.

Get in touch with a specialist employment lawyer

If you have any concerns about a potential employer’s motives for asking about your sexuality, please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our expert solicitors on 01202 075754, or send Kate Brooks an email enquiry. Alternatively, visit our ‘Same-Sex Legal Advice‘ service page to find out more on lgbt employment law.

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