Recognising The Many Faces Of Discrimination In The Workplace

Posted on Dec 18 2015 - 11:23am by Cerys Davidson


Discrimination can be a problem in any workplace up and down the country. While there are laws that make discrimination illegal, you may still find that you are affected by it while you try to carry out your work.

It is important to be able to recognise the different forms of discrimination so that you can take action when they arise. Here are some of the main ways that it can manifest itself at work.

Clear Signs of Discrimination

When it comes to direct discrimination, the clearest sign of this is when you face discrimination because of who you are.

The Equality Act 2010 lists a number of protected characteristics like race, sex, age and disability among others. If you are treated differently or unfairly on account of one of these protected characteristics, this is unlawful.

For example, you may miss out on promotion because you are female despite being the most qualified candidate. Or you may be the target of hostile remarks about your accent, appearance or cultural practices.

These types of discrimination are often easy to spot, and they have the least ambiguity. Even so, you may still feel like you are simply being overly sensitive and you may not realise that you are being treated unlawfully.

That is why it is always important to speak to a lawyer specialising in discrimination at work if you have any doubts. They can then tell you if you have a case, and they can also provide you with guidance for what you need to do next.

Subtle Forms of Discrimination

Discrimination can also be more subtle. For example, one type of direct discrimination is called ‘direct discrimination by association’. This is when you are discriminated against because of someone you know or are with, such as your partner.

You can also suffer from ‘direct discrimination by perception’, where you are discriminated against because you are perceived to be something that you are not (e.g. homosexual).

Because discrimination can be subtle, always talk to someone you trust outside of the workplace to get their opinion. And if you feel you are being treated unfairly, speak to a lawyer.

Indirect Discrimination Is Also an Issue

As well as direct discrimination, you can also suffer from indirect discrimination. This is when there is a rule, policy or practice that everyone has to follow, but which puts you at a disadvantage because of a protected characteristic.

One example concerns religious beliefs. Everyone in your place at work may be required to work over the weekends. However, if your religious beliefs prevent you from working on a Saturday or Sunday, this could be a form of indirect discrimination.

You may not even realise that you are being discriminated against in this way, making it important to speak to a legal expert on the issue to find out your rights.

Don’t Put Up with Discrimination

Discrimination can occur in any workplace. The important thing to remember is that you do not have to put up with it. If you feel that you are being treated unfairly in any way, speak to a lawyer with experience in discrimination, and find out what you can to about your situation.

About the Author

Cerys Davidson is lawyer's assistant for 10 years. She jumps at the chance to help in workplace discrimination cases, a topic very close to her heart, and enjoys fighting for the underdog. Her articles appear on law, work/business and also lifestyle blogs as she works to bring this topic out into the open.