Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010 (“the Act”). Therefore no employee or worker (including those who are deemed to be self-employed) should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.
The Act covers gay men, lesbians, heterosexual people and bisexual people.
If you have been refused employment, offered employment on less favourable terms, denied promotion, training or other benefits, subjected to a detriment, dismissed or subjected to unwanted conduct, and you believe that this is because of your sexual orientation; you may have a claim for sexual orientation discrimination.
Types of discrimination
- Direct Discrimination: This is where someone is treated less favourably and that less favourable treatment is because of their sexual orientation, for example where a line manager dismisses an employee because of their sexual orientation.
- Indirect Discrimination: This is where an employer imposes a provision, criterion or practice (usually a policy) applicable to everyone, but which causes disadvantage to one group over another, and there is no objective justification for it. An example would be where an employer implements a policy of only hiring heterosexual employees.
- Harassment: In general terms this is behaviour that is offensive or distressing. This can be bullying which is violent or obvious as well as teasing, nicknames, jokes, or other behaviour which is not done with malicious intent but which is upsetting.
- Victimisation: This is where a person receives less favourable treatment compared to others because they have either brought (or given evidence in) an Employment Tribunal, or raised a grievance alleging discrimination protected under the Act.
- The Act also provides for ‘vicarious liability’ provisions, making an employer responsible for the acts of their employees.
An employee does not require a qualifying service to bring a claim for sexual orientation discrimination.
The time limit for bringing a claim for sexual orientation discrimination in the Employment Tribunal (ET) is three months less one day from the last act of discrimination. Extensions of this time limit are only available in exceptional circumstances.
If an employee or worker succeeds in a claim for sexual orientation discrimination, the ET has the power to order the payment of compensation. The award would normally comprise of two elements: injury to feelings and loss of earnings.
Further the ET has the jurisdiction to award damages for personal injury and make recommendations that an employer takes specific action, within a specified period.
If you feel you have been discriminated against in the workplace because of your sexual orientation, please contact us on 0113 350 4030 or complete the enquiry form for a free telephone consultation. Alternatively, why not drop into one of our free clinics on Wednesday’s from 5:30pm until 7:30pm at our offices.
We will explore all avenues of funding.