Sex Discrimination Claims

The Sex Discrimination Act (SDA) 1975 and The Eqaulity Act (EA) 2010 outlaw sex discrimination in the employment sphere and other areas. They apply to men and women regardless of age.

The Sex Discrimination Act (SDA) 1975 and The Equality Act (EA) 2010

The SDA 1975 and the EA 2010 outlaw direct sex discrimination, indirect sex discrimination, and victimisation of those who attempt to enforce their rights under the Acts. This and other legislation also address the issues of harassment, gender reassignment, and pregnancy and maternity.

Direct Sex Discrimination

This is where a woman (or man) is treated less favourably than a person of the opposite sex in comparable circumstances because of their gender (e.g. dismissing a woman because she is pregnant). Direct discrimination includes associative discrimination (where an employee is treated less favourably because they are associated with another person who possesses the protected gender characteristic) and discrimination by perception (where an employee is treated less favourably because others perceive them to possess the protected gender characteristic even if they don't).

Indirect Sex Discrimination

Indirect sex discrimination is where a seemingly gender neutral requirement or procedure disproportionately disadvantages one sex more than the other in practice and which the employer cannot justify as a proportionate means of achieving a valid objective (e.g. a height requirement which women are proportionately less able to meet)

Victimisation

Victimisation of those who assert their rights under the SDA 1975, the EA 2010, or the Equal Pay Act 1970 is unlawful.

Discriminatory Advertising

It is unlawful to publish an advertisement indicating an intention to discriminate unlawfully.

Equal Pay

The Equal Pay Act 1970 (EPA) and the EA 2010 provide employees with the right to equal pay when compared with employees of the opposite gender. For further details, see the equal pay page

Pregnancy and Maternity Leave

Dismissal of an employee because she is pregnant or for going on maternity leave constitutes both direct sex discrimination and automatic unfair dismissal regardless of how long the employee has worked for her employer. As there is a maximum limit on the level of compensation that can be awarded for unfair dismissal but no limit on compensation for sex discrimination, a woman dismissed in these circumstances should ensure that she brings a claim for both sex discrimination and unfair dismissal.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is defined under the Employment Equality (Sex Discrimination) Regulations 2005 and EA 2010 as conduct which violates the victims dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. Furthermore, an employee can also bring a claim of harassment even where it is not directed at them personally, so long as they can show that the harassment created an offensive environment for them to work in.

Gender Reassignment

Discrimination against transsexuals who have undergone gender reassignment (i.e. a sex change) or who are or are about to undergo it constitutes sex discrimination and is therefore unlawful.

Sexual Orientation

Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is prohibited by The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 and EA 2010.

Bringing A Sex Discrimination Claim

A tribunal claim must be made within three months of the discriminatory act (or last discriminatory act) complained of. Unlike in unfair dismissal claims, employees do not have to have had at least 2 years continuous service with the employer to be entitled to bring the claim. Should the employees claim be successful, the tribunal can make recommendations and award compensation. Should the employer fail to comply with recommendations made by the tribunal for action to reduce discrimination without reasonable justification, the tribunal can award additional compensation on top of what it may have already awarded. Furthermore, for claims brought from October 2010 onwards, Tribunals can now demand that employers implement changes to prevent further discrimination taking place. Compensation awards in discrimination cases are unlimited and unlike in unfair dismissal cases, there is no such thing as a 'basic' or 'compensatory' award. Instead, the award normally comprises the following:
  • Injury to Feelings:  Comprise separate awards for hurt feelings, aggravated damages, and injury to health. The criteria for assessing compensation for hurt feelings were set out by the Court of Appeal in the case of Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire (No.2) (2003), as amended by Da'Bell v NSPCC (2009). As a result of these cases, there is a top band of between £18,000.00 and £30,000.00 for the most serious cases, a middle band of between £6,000.00 and £18,000.00, and awards of between £500.00 and £6,000.00 for less serious and one-off cases. The Court in Vento stated that awards of less than £500.00 should be avoided. An injury to health claim can be incorporated into the injury to feelings claim, but should there be a separate award for it, the tribunal has to ensure that there is no element of duplication. Finally, aggravated damages can also be awarded as part of the injury to feelings claim, although awards for this element do not usually exceed £5,000.00 and are only awarded should the employers conduct have been especially cruel and malicious.
  • Loss of Earnings: Normally makes up the bulk of the claim and includes both actual and future loss of earnings. Future loss can be extensive where psychiatric injury has been sustained as a result of the discrimination and makes it difficult for the employee to obtain new and appropriate employment.
  • Injury to Health (Personal Injury): Is most commonly for psychiatric injury. Nevertheless, where a claim for personal injury is included, the employee loses the right to bring a claim in the civil courts for it.
  • Ancillary Losses: These can be for items such as the cost of looking for alternative employment and pension loss.
  • Interest: Interest on the compensation award can be claimed

What To Do If You Have A Sex Discrimination Claim

Should you require advice on sex discrimination, then please do not hesitate to contact us. We can be contacted either by telephoning us on 0333 3010 700, or by completing the questionnaire on the right hand side of this page.

As a specialist employment law firm, you can rely upon us to provide you with quality advice from a leading employment law solicitor within the profession.

Please note that we offer a free initial consultation.

Settlement Agreements

Should you have been offered a Settlement Agreement (which used to be known as Compromise Agreements) which you require independent advice on, then please call one of our employment law solicitors immediately on 0333 3010 700, or complete the questionnaire on the right hand side of this page. We will then arrange an appointment with you to go through the Settlement Agreement.

How To Contact Us

To contact The Employment Law Solicitors about an employment law problem, please either telephone us on 0333 3010 700 or complete the short questionnaire above. Simply click the 'Send Now' button to submit the questionnaire once you have completed it. Upon receipt, it will be assessed by a solicitor who will then contact you to discuss the matter. The solicitor appointed to contact you, will be a specialist in your type of employment law issue. The Employment Law Solicitors handle cases on behalf of clients throughout the country. Headquartered in Wilmslow (Cheshire), we also have offices in Manchester, Liverpool, Warrington (Cheshire), Chester (Cheshire), Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Exeter, London, Nottingham, Bristol, Stoke-on-Trent, and Preston.

This initial consultation is completely free of charge.

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