Unlawful discrimination

Discrimination claims are amongst the most difficult for firms to deal with and can be brought by “workers”, which include both partners and employees. The list of the “protected characteristics” (on the basis of which it is unlawful to discriminate) is in itself daunting for many firms. The list is currently as follows:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race (which includes nationality, ethnic origin and colour)
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

Discrimination claims can include claims of:

  • direct discrimination on the grounds of one or more of the protected characteristics
  • indirect discrimination (where basically everyone is treated in the same way, but it puts someone with one or more of the protected characteristics at a particular disadvantage and cannot be justified by the employer)
  • harassment on grounds of one or more of the protected characteristics (such as by one or more other employees creating a hostile environment on such grounds)
  • victimisation (such as by treating an employee less favourably for having raised a complaint about a contravention of the equality legislation (not necessarily in relation to themselves))

We assist firms by:

  • providing guidance to avoid such claims arising
  • strategically analysing and assessing the merits of such claims when they arise
  • settling or mediating such claims at an early stage where appropriate
  • drafting robust defences
  • gathering documentary and witness evidence with a view to defending claims in the Employment Tribunals
  • dealing with preparation for hearings, including dealing with disclosure of evidence from claimants and providing representation at directions hearings
  • preparing witnesses for hearings
  • briefing Counsel to provide representation at full hearings
  • if necessary dealing with any appeals to the Employment Appeal Tribunal or Higher Courts.