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SKU: 7.28
  • Advice

    What is sex discrimination?

    The law protects employees from sex discrimination, which is unfair treatment on account of someone being a male or a female. Please note that this section pertains to both men and women; if you believe you are experiencing discrimination in the workplace on account of being transexual, see the section on gender reassignment discrimination.


    According to the Equality Act, sex discrimination can occur in four general ways:

    • Direct Discrimination;
    • Indirect Discrimination;
    • Harassment; and
    • Victimisation

    These are equally serious manifestations of sex discrimination, but it helps to understand each one when making a complaint to your employer or bringing a case in court.


    Direct Discrimination

    Direct sex discrimination occurs when an employee is treated less favourably on account of their sex, the sex of someone they are associated with or how their sex is perceived. Common examples of direct sex discrimination include a decision not to employ or to dismiss someone, offer poorer terms and conditions of employment, or deny contractual benefits because of sex.


    Indirect Discrimination

    Indirect sex discrimination occurs when the otherwise equal application of a policy, criteria, provision or practice disadvantages one sex versus another. Here, you must show that the policy leading to unfair treatment represents a disproportionate and unnecessary way of your employer achieving an intended outcome. As such, before making a complaint, you should consider whether the policy resulting in less favourable treatment is inherently necessary and proportionate in your employment.



    The law defines harassment as “unwanted conduct” which, in this case, must be related to race. For an act to qualify as harassment, it must also have the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual. For sex discrimination, harassment typically falls under one of three activities.


    These are:

    • Unwanted conduct related to your sex - conduct that infringes upon your dignities, such as bullying, nicknames, inappropriate questions and exclusion;
    • Sexual harassment - this can take multiple forms, such as written or verbal communication of a sexual nature, the display of pornographic materials, unwanted physical contact and outright sexual assault; or
    • Less favourable treatment because you rejected a sexual advance.


    Notably, you can also raise a complaint where you witness harassment and it has a negative impact on you or your working environment.



    Victimisation is when an employee is singled out for cruel and/or unjust treatment because they:

    • Made an allegation of discrimination;
    • Supported a complaint of discrimination;
    • Gave evidence relating to a complaint of discrimination;
    • Raised a concern over equality or discrimination; and/or
    • Did anything else that breaches the Equality Act.


    Notably, victimisation can impact people who stood up for their colleagues and who suffered a detriment as a result, such as being labelled a troublemaker, being denied training or promotion. As long as you bring an allegation for victimization in good faith, you will not face any negative consequences if your evidence turns out to be inaccurate or incomplete.


    Common areas where sex discrimination occurs:

    • Recruitment;
    • pay and terms and conditions of employment (protected under the Equal Pay Act 1970);
    • promotion opportunities;
    • training opportunities;
    • when an employee is dismissed; and/or
    • selection for redundancy.


    How we can help

    We would be delighted to act on your behalf to negotiate whether there has, in our experts opinion, been any discrimination made against you or your employment application, To gain our assistance you need to open a case, this is done by taking advantage of our free consultation service, activated by the link at the top of the page, should you wish to start a case the caseworker will send you the suitable payment link.


    Please note your caseworker can only give generic advice, their role is to prepare your details for handling by our legal team and to act as your point of contact, they will also issue you with your Password and PIN, these will be needed to log onto your client dashboard. From your dashboard you will be able to manage and view every aspect of your case, upload documents, images, files etc.


    Your legal team will carefully examine the employers policies/procedures on the matter and if there is an identified issue, we would seek to assist you in bringing about a fair solution by mediating between yourself and your employer. If a solution cannot be found then we would support you in lodging a claim via an employment tribunal. You should be conscious of the strict time constraints as discrimination claims must be brought to an Employment Tribunal within three months of the alleged discriminatory act. We do tend to find that employers tend to be significantly more responsive when you have taken steps to obtain professional legal advice.


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