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Repercussions Of Discrimination At Workplaces In The United Kingdom

  • In Employment
  • 16 May 2022, 01:39 AM
  • By Technologist Confidant
Workplace discrimination
Discrimination isn't necessarily illegal; people are paid differently according to their status and abilities. However, there are several circumstances in which your employer is prohibited by law from discriminating against you.

The term "discrimination" refers to being mistreated for specific reasons; nevertheless, unlawful discrimination occurs when less favourable or unfair treatment is based on particular features that are legally protected as "protected characteristics." The Equality Act 2010 in the United Kingdom protects nine traits.

Employees do not need to have worked for a specified amount of time to launch a claim for unlawful discrimination. This means that a discrimination claim can be filed in response to a job posting, up to and including former employees' job references, and beyond. To assist you in understanding the repercussions of workplace discrimination in the United Kingdom, the following article explains protected characteristics and the four basic categories of discrimination.

Protected characteristics

Under the Equality Act 2010, the United Kingdom has set out nine protected characteristics. They are Age, Disability, Marriage and Civil Partnership, Gender Reassignment, Pregnancy and Maternity, Race, Religion or Belief, Sexual Orientation and Sex.

Discrimination in the workplace can be held accountable by both employers and employees. In layman's terms, this means that a discrimination claim can be brought against both the employer (as a corporation) and individual employees. Even if the employer had no intention of discriminating against someone, employers might be held liable for their workers' behaviour. When this happens, it's known as vicarious liability. Vicarious liability may be avoided if the employer can demonstrate that they took all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination in the first place.

Discrimination cases are legally unbounded in terms of the amount a judge can award due to the possibility of claiming "damage to feelings." When a legal discrimination lawsuit is filed, the reward is often granted. The sum is frequently estimated using 'Vento' bandings, despite the fact that there is no cap on the amount. Based on the seriousness of the situation, a lower, medium, and higher band determines how much should be awarded.

Types of workplace discrimination

Under the Equality Act 2010, there are four basic categories of discrimination:

Direct discrimination

Direct discrimination occurs when an employee is treated differently and less favourably than others for specific reasons. The reasons might be;

  • An individual has a protected characteristic. This is a typical case of direct discrimination, and it is the only form of direct discrimination that can be legally sanctioned, but only if it is 'objectively justifiable’.
  • Someone with whom the individual is linked has a protected attribute (such as a family member or colleague). This is a form of associational discrimination.
  • Regardless of whether the perception is correct, the individual is regarded as having a protected quality, and this is a case of perception-based discrimination.

Direct discrimination does not have to be intentional, even if there is usually a conscious act of exclusion. This means that a claim can be successful even if discrimination was unintentional.

Indirect discrimination

Indirect discrimination is less apparent than direct discrimination and is frequently unintentional. It occurs when a regulation or plan is implemented that applies to everyone; it is not discriminatory in and of itself, but it may disadvantage individuals who have a protected characteristic. It occurs when a 'provision, criterion, or practice' (PCP) involves all four of these factors in law:

  • The 'PCP' is applied uniformly to a group of persons, with just a few of them sharing the protected characteristic.
  • It has (or will have) the impact of putting individuals who share the protected characteristic at a distinct disadvantage in comparison to those who do not.
  • It puts the individual at a disadvantage.
  • The employer is unable to justify it rationally.

The 2010 Equality Act does not define what a “PCP” is. According to ACAS, “‘The term is most likely to include an employer’s policies, procedures, requirements, rules and arrangements, even if informal, and whether written down or not”.


Harassment is described as "unwanted behaviour" motivated by a protected characteristic. It must be done to infringe on a person's dignity or put them in an intimidating, threatening, demeaning, humiliating, or insulting position. Bullying, nicknames, rumours, and intrusive or inappropriate inquiries and utterances are all examples of harassment. Excluding someone (by refusing to invite them to meetings or events) is another possibility of harassment. Claiming that the behaviour was only 'banter' or that it was not intended to offend is not a defence. The victim's perspective is more important than the harasser's when it comes to harassment. If this type of behaviour has harmed someone's dignity at work, they can file a harassment lawsuit.


Victimisation happens when an employee suffers a 'detriment' as a result of doing (or being suspected of doing) one of the following activities in good faith. The activities are as follows:

  • Has made an allegation of discrimination
  • Supporting a complaint of discrimination
  • Provided evidence in support of a discrimination complaint
  • Made a complaint about inequality or discrimination
  • Anything else for the purposes of (or in connection with) the Equality Act, such as filing a discrimination claim with an employment tribunal.

How is workplace discrimination in UK different from India?

Discrimination in the workplace can take many forms in India; it can be for a single reason or a combination of factors. According to a survey performed by TeamLease, 48% of Indians have faced job discrimination in some manner. Gender (25%) is the most common source of bias, followed by age (22%) and caste/religion (18 per cent). Discrimination was most prevalent in Delhi, Pune, and Chennai, while it was least prevalent in Ahmedabad. Surprisingly, just 30% of the businesses surveyed stated they have a formal anti-discrimination policy.

Discriminating against workers for filing charges or testifying against an employer in any inquiry or proceeding relating to an industrial dispute, discriminating against workers because they belong to a union, and showing bias or partiality to one group of workers regardless of their qualifications are all prohibited under the ID Act.

With the exception of sexual harassment, persons with disabilities, HIV, and the Transgender Act, which protects transgender people from discrimination, India currently lacks a comprehensive legislative framework that addresses workplace discrimination in the private sector. Businesses must pay equal salaries to be male and female employees who perform equivalent duties under the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which also prohibits employers from discriminating against women in recruitment, promotions, and transfers.

Why should international employees be aware of workplace discrimination?

Anti-discrimination laws are based on equality principles, which assert that people should not be treated differently depending on the characteristics discussed earlier in this article. Simultaneously, they've been chastised for interfering with people's fundamental right to free association. Individual discrimination and structural discrimination are covered by anti-discrimination legislation (arising from policies or procedures that disadvantage certain groups). Courts may examine both discriminatory intent and disparate impact when determining whether a specific act or policy is discriminatory.

Migrant employees in the United Kingdom are protected by the same laws that apply to all other workers. They should be paid the same as British workers who do the same job. Employers with an international workforce must be extra cautious to ensure adequate safeguards against discrimination based on race, religion, gender, or age.

Anti-discriminatory laws in the UK

Existing anti-discrimination law was consolidated into a single Act of Parliament by the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act prohibits direct, indirect, perceptual, and associative discrimination based on sex, race, ethnicity, religion, belief, age, disability, sexual orientation, and gender reassignment. Employees are also protected against being mistreated because they work part-time, for an agency, or on a fixed-term contract under employment legislation.

The act's objectives are comparable to the four main EU Equal Treatment Directives, which it embodies and implements. The legislation, however, goes beyond EU laws, protecting people against discrimination based on their country of origin and citizenship, as well as extending people's rights to areas outside of the workplace, such as religion or belief, disability, age, sex, sexual orientation, and gender reassignment.

The Equality Act of 2010 safeguards individuals against discrimination by:

  • Businesses and organisations that supply goods or services, such as banks, shops, and utility providers
  • Providers of health and care, such as hospitals and nursing facilities, and those from whom individuals rent or buy a home, such as housing associations and estate agents
  • Institutions of higher learning, such as schools and colleges, as well as other educational institutions
  • Transportation services like buses and trains.
  • Government agencies and municipal governments

Steps employees should take if they are discriminated against at work

Workplace discrimination can be addressed in a variety of ways. What is best for employees will be determined by their circumstances and how they feel about themselves. It is preferable to resolve issues as quickly and pleasantly. Individuals can file a legal claim with the Employment Tribunal if this does not work out.

Employees can solve a discrimination problem in different ways:

  • Making an informal complaint to the employer, either verbally or in writing.
  • 'Raising a grievance' is filing a formal complaint with the employer.
  • 'Settling' is the process of negotiating with the employer to reach an agreement.
  • Use ‘mediation’ before taking legal action; a qualified mediator will try to help you and your employer reach an agreement.
  • File a lawsuit in front of an employment tribunal.

Employers can aid in the prevention of workplace discrimination by maintaining an up-to-date equality policy, conducting regular anti-discrimination training for employees, and making it clear how employees can report discrimination if it occurs. Employees and their line managers should frequently meet to foster strong working relationships.