What you can do

What is discrimination?

Direct discrimination

Direct discrimination refers to situations where someone is treated less favourably because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, or the sexual orientation or gender identity of someone they are close to. 

Under the Equality Act 2010 it is unlawful for employers to refuse a job, promotion or any training opportunity to an employee on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Direct discrimination also refers to unfair treatment due to being associated with someone who is lesbian, gay, or trans. This can include a friend, relative or colleague. An employer cannot refuse a job, promotion or any training opportunity to an employee on the basis of the sexual orientation or gender identity of someone they know.

Indirect discrimination

Indirect discrimination refers to situations where a workplace policy, provision, criteria or practice puts people of a particular sexual orientation or gender identity at a disadvantage when compared to others of a different sexual orientation or gender identity.

All employers, regardless of how many people they employ, should work to ensure their policies and procedures are inclusive and the language used within them reflects this. For instance, if certain privileges are offered on the basis that an employee is married, then this must extend to those in civil partnerships.

Harassment

Harassment refers to unwanted conduct which violates someone’s dignity or creates an intimidating, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

Harassment can include:

  • Jokes or banter
  • Insults or threats
  • Unnecessary and degrading references to someone’s sexual orientation or their perceived sexual orientation
  • Excluding someone from activities or social events
  • Spreading rumours or gossip including speculating about someone’s sexual orientation or outing them
  • Asking intrusive questions

The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, even if that person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is not known, or if that person is wrongly perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans.

Victimisation

Victimisation refers to treating someone badly because they have complained about negative experiences at work.

If an employee can show that they are being treated differently because they have issued a grievance, and that treatment is less favourable compared to other employees, this could be classed as victimisation and would be unlawful. Complaints of victimisation need to be made separately to any previous or on-going grievances. Due to the nature of victimisation it can feel difficult to challenge or prove. However, employers have a duty to look into complaints and address behaviour. It may be best to try and address victimisation directly or informally with a manager. If this is unsuccessful it is possible to follow a formal grievance and tribunal action.

Where can I get help? 

The LGBT community and people who associate with the LGBT community have the right to be protected in the workplace from discrimination, indirect discrimination harassment and victimisation.

New Law Solicitors - New Law’s employment law advisors can provide further guidance if you feel you have been discriminated against, either during an interview process or during the course of your employment.Contact 0333 005 0301 or kathryn.barnes@new-law.co.uk.

For further information please contact Stonewall Cymru's Information Service on 08000 502020 or email cymru@stonewallcymru.org.uk.