Discrimination in the workplace occurs when someone is treated less favourably than others because they have certain characteristics, such as a disability or being a woman.

If you believe you have been discriminated against and you want to take action to end this treatment, you should speak to an employment lawyer about your options.

At Springhouse Solicitors we deal exclusively with employment, meaning we have in-depth knowledge and experience. We can discuss your discrimination with you and work out the best course of action for resolving the issue, which could include claiming compensation for injury to your feelings and any financial losses you have suffered.

What counts as discrimination at work?

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of nine protected characteristics, as follows:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage or civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

There are four main types of discrimination that can occur, namely direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

Direct discrimination

Direct discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably because of a protected characteristic. For example, not sending someone on a training course because they are considered too old to learn.

This type of discrimination can also be by association, when someone is treated differently because they associate with someone who has a protected characteristic, or by perception, when the different treatment is because they are perceived to have a protected characteristic, whether or not they do.

The discrimination does not have to be intentional for you to bring a claim.

Indirect discrimination

Indirect discrimination is generally when a policy exists that has the effect of discriminating against a certain group of people. This could be only promoting full-time workers when most of the part-time workers are female. If your employer cannot objectively justify this, then it is likely to be discrimination.


Harassment is bullying or unwelcome behaviour on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. It is a violation of someone’s dignity or the creation of a hostile environment.


Victimisation arises when you are treated unfairly because you complained about unfair treatment on the grounds of a protected characteristic or you supported someone else’s complaint. It could also occur if someone merely thinks you complained.

What should be done to prevent workplace discrimination?

Discrimination can occur outside of actual workplace attendance and includes unfair treatment in job advertisements, the recruitment process, in the terms and conditions of employment and at social events.

Employers should have a policy in place to deal with discrimination, which you should follow when you initially raise a complaint. Ideally, they should also have an equal opportunities policy in place which sets out the type of behaviour that is not acceptable.

A staff handbook can be as important as an employment contract, find out what should be included in a staff handbook.

What to do if someone has discriminated against you

If you have been discriminated against, you should initially raise the issue informally with your employer if possible.

If the matter is not resolved, then you can raise a formal issue, following your employer’s grievance procedure, which will generally be set out in your employment contract or employee handbook.

You can also seek legal advice to ensure that your rights are protected and that you achieve the outcome you want. If you have experienced loss or injury because of the discrimination, you could be entitled to compensation. This includes injury to your feelings, such as hurt and distress, and for any mental anguish you have suffered.

Find out whether you have a good claim

If you feel you have been discriminated against at work, we will assess your claim and help you establish a good case. We will guide you through the process and ensure that you are fully informed throughout.

Whether for employees, agency workers, freelance workers, consultants, partners or directors, our specialist employment law solicitors have an excellent record of achieving favourable conclusions in discrimination cases.

Pursuing a discrimination claim

We can help you pursue a discrimination claim against your employer and have an excellent record of achieving favourable results for all levels and types of employees.

Our specialist employment law solicitors will guide you through the process, making sure follow you follow the right procedures and, if required, will represent you at a tribunal.

Contact us for an initial chat with our helpful team.

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