The Equality Act 2010 is designed to makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against employees.
There are four types of Sex discrimination:
- Indirect discrimination: this disadvantages employees of a particular gender. For example, a requirement that job applicants wants someone to work as an Engineer on an oil rig which would will be met by significantly fewer women than men. Indirect discrimination can only be justified if it is in accordance with the legitimate aim.
- Direct discrimination: treating someone badly because of their actual or understanding of the person’s sex, or because of the gender of someone with whom they associate. An example of this could be not employing a man purely because of his gender.
- Victimisation: unfair treatment of an employee who has made or witnessed a complaint about sex discrimination.
- Harassment: when unwanted attention related to sex and violates an individual’s dignity and creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and an offensive environment for that individual to be working in.
Employers should make sure they have policies and procedures in place which are created to prevent discrimination because of their gender.
Policies need to be created to prevent discrimination in:
- Disciplinary and grievance
- Bullying and harassment.
- Determining pay
- Training and development
There are some jobs which can require that the job-holder be a woman or a man this is known as an ‘occupational requirement’. The list of occupational requirements is very restricted for example is where the job holder is likely to work in circumstances where members of one sex are in a state of distress and might reasonably object to the presence of a member of the opposite sex such as someone that works in a woman’s refuge.
Positive action will only be allowed where a particular group:
- Suffers a disadvantage
- If a group of the same sex is under or over represented
- Has needs that are different from the needs of other gender groups in the workforce.
You can bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal if you feel you have been discriminated against, it is always recommended to try to resolve any problems you have with your employer informally before it got to the formal stage and minimise any negative effect on all concerned.