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Home / Areas of Practice / Employment Law / Workplace Discrimination / Discrimination in the Workplace
/ Sex Discrimination

Sex Discrimination

Sex Discrimination in the workplace situation occurs when your employer discriminates against you because of your gender.

Types of discrimination that are unlawful under the Equality Act 2010 are:

direct discrimination,

indirect discrimination,

harassment and


The protection is available even during the recruitment process, during decisions about promotion and if you are dismissed.

Direct Discrimination

Direct discrimination occurs when an employer treats or would treat you less favourably than someone of the opposite gender.

An example of this could be if your employer gives a male colleague promotion rather than a female employee, even though they may have less experience and qualifications.

The female in such a scenario may be able to make a successful claim of direct discrimination based on her gender. However, this is not just about women being discriminated against, if the reverse situation occurred then the male employee could make exactly the same claim.

Unfortunately, it is all too often the case that it is a women the suffers such unfair treatment, so if you feel this has happened to you call us today for a free consultation on 01286 87277, 01286 269226 or 07594461181.

Indirect Discrimination

Indirect discrimination could occur if your employer has a ‘rule’ that applies to everyone of either gender, (in legal terms the ‘rule’ applied is called a “Provision, Criteria or Practice” (PCP)), but that PCP puts certain employees of the same sex at a particular disadvantage.

To understand this type of discrimination better a good example of indirect discrimination would be if an employer advertised a job saying all applicants must be over 6 feet tall. This ‘rule’ would apply to all applicants of either gender so would not be directly discriminatory, however it would put women at a disadvantage over a man as women would be less likely to be over 6 feet tall.

As another example there could be a rule that says all staff would have to be at work by 6 am. in a morning, this PCP would apply to all staff of either gender, however it is likely to be of a particular disadvantage to women who have children at school. It is accepted that it is mostly women that do the ‘school’ run so clearly they could not comply with this PCP. So there is a possibility this rule would be considered indirectly discriminatory.

However, an employer may well be able to justify the PCP if they can show it is a “proportionate measure of achieving a legitimate aim”. So in the early starting example a bakery that needs to bake its bread early in a morning so it can be distributed to its retail outlets might be able to show there was a genuine business need to have the rule.

Sex discrimination in some circumstances may be lawful

There are some circumstances where sex discrimination could be considered lawful;

If there is a genuine Occupational Requirement for a person of a particular gender (this includes where the employment is within organised religion or the armed forces);

“Positive Action” is also sometimes allowed. This can occur if an employer believes there is an unbalanced workforce, and one gender is therefore under-represented. If this is the case, they may be able to show that they have used positive action to hire someone with the under-represented characteristic.

Contact Winrow Solicitors

If you have a discrimination law problem, call now to get free, no obligation consultation from one of our solicitors.

Ian Winrow:
01286 872779
Amy Hughes:
07497 777828

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