If you are treated unfairly because you are gay, lesbian or bisexual then you have a right to make a sexual orientation discrimination claim under Section 12(1) of the Equality Act 2010. Likewise if you are subjected to harassment or victimisation at work on account of your sexual orientation then you are protected by the Equality Act.
Discrimination may be:
- Direct – being treated less favourably because of your sexual orientation, your perceived sexual orientation or the sexual orientation of those with whom you associate.
- Indirect – being put at a disadvantage by a ‘provision, criterion or practice’ which, although it applies equally to all employees, has the effect of putting employees of a particular sexual orientation at a disadvantage.
- Harassment – covered by Section 26 of the Equality Act 2010, harassment describes a situation in which an employee has their dignity violated as a result of another’s unwanted conduct or is obliged to work in an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Employers are vicariously liable for the conduct of their employees so if you are being treated badly by colleagues then your employer is also liable for that treatment.
- Victimisation – This has a very specific legal definition and describes the situation when an employee is subjected to a detriment, in other words treated less favourably, because they have brought proceedings under the Equality Act; given evidence or information in connection with proceedings; done any other thing in connection with the Act or made an allegation that another person has contravened the Act.
The case Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis v Maxwell UKEAT/0232/12/MC is a recent example of the Equality Act being used to protect an employee who has suffered sexual orientation discrimination, harassment and victimisation in the workplace.
If you have suffered any form of sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace, do not hesitate to contact one of our no win no fee employment solicitors today.