How employers can avoid discrimination claims
Employers are required to abide by a wide range of employment regulations and one area which can be particularly tricky to deal with is discrimination law. The Equality Act 2010 bans any form of discrimination on grounds of nine protected characteristics which are:
● gender reassignment
● marriage or civil partnership
● pregnancy and maternity
● religion or philosophical belief
● sexual orientation
It’s vital that employees (or job candidates) are not exposed to any of these types of discrimination in the course of their employment (or during the interview process). Whether the source of any discrimination is a co-worker or part of the management team, the employer has a responsibility to their members of staff to prevent discrimination in the workplace.
Implementing the equal opportunities policy
In order to prevent any discriminatory attitudes and behaviours, a properly drafted equal opportunities policy should be circulated to all members of staff and management. Although it is not a legal requirement, implementing a policy is recommended in the Equality and Human Rights Commission (ECHR) Code of Practice on Employment. This code is taken into account by employment tribunals in deciding whether discrimination has occurred.
An equal opportunities policy should be applied at all stages of an employment relationship but simple common sense can also help to avoid any potential discrimination claims. For example, asking someone if they are pregnant during an interview – or for their religious views during a redundancy selection process – is almost an invitation to be taken to an employment tribunal. The only time discrimination can be justified is where there is a “genuine occupational requirement” (eg. limiting an acting role to female black actresses where they will play a female black character).
Helping employers prevent discrimination
The employment law team at CH Legal can help you draft or update your equal opportunities procedure, to ensure it’s compliant with the frequently changing discrimination laws. We can also advise you on any discrimination claims you might face and defend your interests, providing representation at employment tribunal if necessary. To find out more, get in touch with Caroline Tomlinson or call 0845 4786 354.