Hannah Roberts
Paralegal
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Date Published:09 Jul 2018 Last Updated:12 Apr 2021

LGBT discrimination in the workplace

LGBT+ Legal Advice

LGBT discrimination in the workplace is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010. The legislation states it is unlawful to discriminate against individuals who hold one of nine protected characteristics, one of which is sexual orientation.

Definition of sexual orientation

The Act defines sexual orientation as orientation toward persons of the (1) same sex; (2) opposite sex; or (3) either sex.

Case law has developed these definitions and now the following individuals can also be protected from being treated less favourably:

  1. If they are associated with someone who has a certain sexual orientation; and
  2. If they are perceived (correctly or incorrectly) to have a certain sexual orientation.

Types of discrimination

In law, there are 4 types/ways in which you can be discriminated against based on your sexuality. Examples of LGBT discrimination are as follows;

  1. Direct discrimination: where you are treated less favourably as a direct result of your sexual orientation.
  2. Indirect discrimination: where your workplace imposes a policy, practice procedure or rule that applies to all staff, however puts individuals with a specific sexual orientation at a particular disadvantage.
  3. Harassment: where unwanted conduct has the purpose of effect of making you to feel humiliated, offended or degraded or an offensive environment is created that makes you feel that way.
  4. Victimisation: where you are treated badly or less favourably because you have either made a complaint or supported someone who has made a complaint of sexual discrimination under the Act.

Under LGBT discrimination laws either a one-off act or a course of conduct can amount to unlawful sexual orientation discrimination. The Act includes protection for employees and job applicants.

What to do if you feel that you may have been discriminated against due to your sexual orientation

Complaints of this nature can be brought in the employment tribunal, however we always encourage the matter to be raised informally with your employer in the first instance to try to resolve the matter. Alternatively, you can engage your employers formal grievance process as an alternative resolution.

ACAS have published some useful and detailed guidance on sexual orientation discrimination.

Each case will need to be assessed on an individual basis to determine whether you could potentially bring a claim.

If you have any queries, or feel like you have been discriminated against as a result of your sexual orientation, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist LGBT solicitors. Call Hannah Roberts in the Employment department on 01202 057752 or send an email enquiry.