Under the Equality Act 2010 an individual is protected from discrimination because they are married or a civil partner. The law covers current employees and job applicants.
What would class as marriage and civil partnership discrimination
Compared to many forms of discrimination, marriage and civil partnership discrimination can be a lot harder to pin down. Under the Equality Act 2010 a worker’s right not to be discriminated against on the basis of marriage and civil partnership includes direct and indirect discrimination as well as victimisation. These types of discrimination are as follow:
Direct Discrimination: This is when someone encounters less favourable treatment because they are married or in a civil partnership. For example, a married worker is not promoted because the new role requires a lot of time in the office and so the organisation that they work for feels that this would best suit a single person.
Indirect Discrimination: This is when a provision, criterion or practice is put in place and applies to to all workers but would put people who are married or in civil partnerships at a disadvantage. A rather extreme example would be if the employer has a ban on recruiting employees who have children. This would put those who are married or in civil partnerships at a disadvantage because they are statistically more likely to have children than unmarried people.
Victimisation: This is when a worker receives less favourable treatment because they have complained about discrimination in the workplace. This protects people who have made a complaint about marriage or civil partnership discrimination (or have supported another employee in a complaint) so that they do not then go on to suffer ill treatment from co-workers or managers because of it.
Harassment: This describes a situation in which a person is subjected to unwanted conduct due to marriage or civil partnership.
What about common law couples?
Unfortunately common law couples are not covered under this legislation. Couple in relationships other than marriage and civil partnerships are not protected from discrimination. See our article on the differences in legal protection for cohabiting couples.
If you feel like you have been a victim of marriage or civil partnership discrimination please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 756 6605 where one of our friendly team members will be able to assist in assessing whether you have a case we can help with on a no win no fee basic