Sex Discrimination Solicitors - Employment Compensation Claims

Sex discrimination is a sensitive and complex area of employment law. Our sex discrimination solicitors are fully qualified to negotiate compensation on your behalf or submit your application to the Employment Tribunal. If you feel you have been a victim of sex discrimination, contact us today to arrange a legal consultation at no cost over the telephone. A same sex solicitor is available if you make a request during the initial conversation.

It is possible for an individual to make application to an Employment Tribunal without the assistance of a lawyer and to attend the hearing unrepresented however it should be borne in mind that as the Employment Tribunal has the power to award unlimited compensation in favour of an applicant for sex discrimination. The stakes are high in sex discrimination compensation claims and the employer will almost certainly have experienced legal representation in the form of an expert sex discrimination solicitor or experienced employment barrister. It is almost always to your advantage to be represented in these matters.

Sex Discrimination Act 1975

Under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, it is against the law for an employee to receive different or unfair treatment based on gender in all areas pertaining to employment. This includes application and recruitment, training, promotions, pay and benefits, work practices and dismissal or termination. There are some exceptions in which “constructive sex discrimination” occurs and is not against the law, such as advertising for gender-specific employees as toilet attendants or in hospitals and prisons, or for actors to fulfil certain acting roles.

Sex Discrimination Law

An application for compensation for sex discrimination can be made to the Employment Tribunal who will consider all of the evidence in order to ascertain whether or not there has been a breach of the law after consideration of :-

    The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 - prohibits treating people differently on the basis of their sex or marital status.

    The Employment Equality Regulations 2003 - makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against anyone because of sexual orientation or preferences.

    The Equal Pay Act 1970 - requires employers to pay men and women the same amount for performing the same job.

    The Equal Opportunities Commission Code of Practice 1985 - the main thrust of which is that businesses must provide equal opportunities to members of both sexes in the workplace.

The Employer Pays

Even though an employer may have had nothing whatsoever to do with the offending actions, it is the employer that is responsible for the harm caused and it is the employer who will be the defendant in any sex discrimination solicitors action for compensation in the Employment Tribunal. There are circumstances where the employer will be liable for events that occur outside working hours if they are vaguely related to work such as a Christmas party or a round of drinks in the pub after work as this is considered by the Employment Tribunal as an extension of the workplace environment. Employers can sometimes defend an application if their solicitor can show that they took all reasonable steps to prevent this unlawful behaviour from occurring but this is a defence that rarely succeeds.

Direct & Indirect Sex Discrimination

Sex discrimination falls into one of two different categories. First, the discriminatory behaviour can be direct. Direct sex discrimination occurs when an employer treats a person differently because of that person's sex. With direct sex discrimination, the illegal behaviour is blatant and irrefutable.

The second type of sex discrimination, indirect discrimination, is much more subtle. Rather than outright discriminatory treatment, indirect discrimination occurs when an employer denies equal employment opportunities to job applicants of a given sex by intentionally placing obstacles in their way. For instance, an employer might arbitrarily require that job applicants be at least 6 feet tall in order to be considered for the position. This type of height requirement would amount to a bigger obstacle for women than for men.

Additionally, it is illegal for an employer to terminate or treat an employee unfavourably because of a condition unique to their gender. One of the most common examples of this is pregnancy. It is unlawful for an employer to terminate a woman for being pregnant or for going to her antenatal doctor appointments.

Constructive Discrimination

There are circumstance where 'constructive sex discrimination' is not unlawful and it would be lawful for example for a local authority to advertise for toilet attendants of one sex or another for very obvious reasons. Similarly hospitals and prisons may advertise in a gender specific way and remain lawful. Likewise a gender specific advert for a male/female model or an actor/actress will not necessarily break the rules.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment has been defined as any unwanted conduct based on the grounds of an individuals gender. The Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 and Employment Rights Act 1996 protect employees from this kind of behaviour. The conduct does not have to sexual in nature however any behaviour at work that is sexual in nature and is unwanted will constitute sexual harassment in the workplace. This type of treatment must have been carried out with the intention of violating dignity or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The most common conduct which is in violation of the law that forms the basis for a sexual harassment compensation claim is sexual in nature and can include demeaning comments, indecent remarks, lewd jokes, provocative looks and language, verbal intimidation, demonstrative behaviour or language, sexual demands or sexual questions. Incidents of sexual harassment involving physical contact are criminal offences and should be dealt with by the police. Damages payable in a sexual harassment compensation claim before the Employment Tribunal are unlimited.

An employee should immediately report any behaviour of this nature to the employer who is duty bound to attempt to stop further incidents of sexual harassment. A company can however be held liable for sexual harassment by the Employment Tribunal in certain circumstances for a single incident even though they had no previous notice of the offenders propensity and character. It has also been ruled that an employee who resigns or is dismissed for other reasons can make an application for sexual harassment compensation at a later date after the employment has terminated. In addition an employer can be liable for incidents that take place at social gatherings involving employees occurring immediately after work or for an organised leaving party as these occasions were seen to be extensions of the workplace.

Time Limits

There are time limits in regards to complaints to the Employment Tribunal which must receive the application from the solicitor within three months of the last incident complained of however this may be extended by three months to allow the statutory grievance procedure to be completed. In regards to dismissal; the three month period runs from the actual date of termination of the contract of employment and not from the date that notice was given.