What is direct and indirect discrimination?
Treating someone less favourably even while their rights are protected in equality legislation is unacceptable.
If the employer has been discriminating against someone, i.e. an employee with a protected characteristic, it is direct discrimination. Examples of direct discrimination are:
- Dismissing the staff member with protected characteristic.
- Refusal or denial to employ such professionals even though they have the required skills for the job.
- Denying these individuals a promotion, training, or setting them the adverse employment terms and conditions.
As well at this, there’s also a possibility for employers to discriminate against an employee because he/she is not holding a particular religion or belief as the employer or share protected characteristics that include sex, race, gender, and civil partnership.
Indirect discrimination at work can be identified through the following instances:
- A new dress code is introduced however, it prohibits some of the styles carried by one or a group of individuals.
- Getting to do the employees work on Sundays that may not be convenient for some of them, for instance for religious reasons.
- Treating female employees differently or exempting them from certain activities because of their gender.
How does one justify an indirect discrimination? Is it ethically correct?
‘One’ here refers to the employers who intentionally or unintentionally do hurtful things to their employees. Discrimination per se, is a horrible act carried out by insensitive employer.
UK employment law and the Equality Act 2010 demonstrates that employers must not discriminate against a particular group of employee. All of the staff members must be treated equally – the employment terms and conditions should be the same for one and all.
Indirect discrimination that accounts to age, disability, race, gender, religion, or any other protected characteristic of an individual, is prohibited by law.
This very employment law applies to all employers in the same way. If undertaken by an employer, this practice, policy, or rule can have a worse effect on the workers who can or cannot take it personally.
Free employment law advice or talking to an expert can help the sufferer come out of such ugly situations.
The law on indirect discrimination prevents any sort of provision, criterion or practice (PCP) that puts the individuals with protected characteristics at a disadvantage.
What are the specific situations that suggest indirect discrimination?
- Two staff with the same qualifications are treated differently. While one is enjoying all the employment benefits, the other one (with a protected characteristic) has to struggle to make an impression on the employer and is less favourably treated by the management.
Also known as disparate treatment by the employer, a scenario like this is most likely to be noted by the rest of the employees in a workplace. Indirect discriminations are more deliberate in nature and are quite often done with intent.
What does the Equality Act 2010 states about indirect discrimination?
Whether age discrimination, maternity or pregnancy discrimination, race discrimination, or sex discrimination, according to the Equality Act 2010, as an employee, you have the full right to drag your employer to the employment tribunal.
Although the law affirms that PCPs can be carried out in various circumstances, they have to be neutral. Employees can challenge a PCP of their management if it is only affecting them personally.
Can indirect discrimination harm employers as well?
Undeniably, indirect discrimination puts the employers at more risk than employees. Time has changed and people have been getting proactively engaged in seeking justice.
Earlier, where there was a need for employees to explain why and how the PCP is affecting them, the Supreme Court has happened to overturn the rule.
Now, the discriminated against employee does not need to represent the indirect discrimination at length in court. The fact that a specific PCP is causing the staff member to suffer a disadvantage is a good enough reason to bring the claim at employment tribunal.
Employers are advised to carefully review their policies, criteria, and procedures to ensure they do not affect the rights of a group of employees with protected characteristics.
Here are two indirect discrimination cases to support this information:
Mentioned below, are the two indirect discrimination cases that brought about a substantial change in the system.
- Rainbow v Milton Keynes Council: Ms Rainbow, aged 61 had been employed as a teacher by Milton Keynes Council. With 34 years of experience and one of the uppermost pay scales. She realised she was being discriminated against when a vacancy arose within her school but only for those in the first five years of their career. Thus, she was not shortlisted for the role. She took to the matter to the employment tribunal that concluded the job advert to constitute indirect age discrimination. The Council although tried to justify the step taken by citing financial barriers as a reason, the plea was not good enough to consider.
- Coleman v Attridge Law Case: Sharon Coleman worked for a law firm, Attridge Law that rolled out a PCP that discriminated against her on the basis of disability. Coleman went ahead to make a claim at Employment Tribunal. It led the European Court of Justice to declare an amendment of anti-discriminatory law for the disabled in both public and private sectors. Also, the claim had a major repercussion on the employer – Attridge Firm.
There are many such cases to have come about in the recent past, and employees winning them clearly shows that the government has not lagged behind in offering each and every European citizen or employee anti-discrimination rights.
A PCP may be permissible by law, however it doesn’t give the leverage to employers to carelessly put the staff members with protected characteristics at a disadvantage.
Speak to one of the highly skilled and extensively experienced employment solicitors if you think you are being discriminated against on the basis of some ruthless reasons, or treated unfairly by your employer because of your particular characteristic.
Tom Street qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and has over 20 years experience in employment and litigation law. He studied law at the University of Manchester before undertaking the legal practice course at the College of Law in Guildford, going on to complete his legal training at a firm in Chancery Lane, London. Once fully qualified, he moved to a niche litigation practice in the City of London.
In 2010, Tom set up his own legal practice, Tom Street & Co Solicitors and as part of this, in accordance with his strongly held objective to provide everyone with an easy pathway to justice he established the online portals Do I Have A Case? and Tribunal Claim. These websites are trading names of Tom Street & Co Solicitors.