Sexual orientation is one of the nine “protected characteristics” covered by the Equality Act 2010 and provides protection for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and heterosexuals from discrimination in the work place.
The law offers a vast range of protection to a wide range of people to include job applicants, employees, workers, employee shareholders and in some situations self employed contractors. The protection starts from recruitment and extends through employment to include training, promotions and dismissals/resignations.
It is unlawful for an employer to:
- Treat a job applicant or an employee less favourably than others because of their sexual orientation for example: if an employer refuses a promotion because it finds out the employee has a same sex partner, the employee has gay friends or is perceived to be gay;
- Apply a provision, criterion or practice that disadvantages job applicants or employees of a particular sexual orientation, for example: an employer offers a benefit to an employee and a spouse, but the policy only refers to marriage between a man and a woman.
- Subject an applicant or employee to harassment for example: a colleague makes a comment to a customer or alternative colleague that makes an individual feel humiliated, degraded or offended on the grounds of sexual orientation. This may include comments to third parties even if not made directly to the individual, name calling, impersonations and rumours.
- Victimise a job applicant or employee because they have made a complaint of sexual orientation discrimination, for example an individual makes a complaint about not being allowed to bring same sex partner to a corporate event. Shortly after the complaint is made the individual is not invited to a training event.
If you suspect that you have been treated differently as a result of your sexual orientation, our team of experienced employment lawyers can guide you through the steps required to raise an internal complaint at work, pursue a claim for compensation in the employment tribunal, or negotiate a financial settlement. Our team has advised on a number of sexual orientation discrimination cases which have resulted in the employment tribunal awarding compensation for loss of earnings and injury to feelings.