Understanding gender discrimination


Gender discrimination is more commonly referred to as ‘sexual discrimination’. Broadly speaking, gender discrimination occurs when you are being discriminated against, in one form or another, because of your sex. Gender discrimination can occur in various different walks of life.

Gender discrimination in the workplace

Employment law states that you cannot be discriminated against because of your sex or sexual orientation. The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 governs sexual discrimination in the workplace. Sexual discrimination laws cover men and women, and anyone that has undergone sexual reassignment.

Sexual discrimination has taken place if your sex has been used as a differentiating factor in your recruitment, the level of pay you receive, who is promoted within your company and who is chosen for dismissal or redundancy.

If you think you have suffered sexual discrimination, this is unlawful and should be reported to your employer. If you do not receive a satisfactory outcome to your formal complaint, you can move to an employment tribunal.

Gender discrimination may occur:

  • Directly or indirectly
  • Overtly or covertly

For example, many people feel that gender discrimination is still rife when it comes to recruitment for the most powerful and well paid positions.

An example of this is that women are still under-represented in the city of London in areas like investment banking and finance; many believe this is due to them being discriminated against because of their sex. The Equal Pay Act 1970 states that your employer must pay men and women that do the same job the same level of pay. If they do not, this is sexual discrimination.

Other forms of discrimination at work could occur in the context of:

  • Recruitment
  • Promotion and transfer opportunities
  • Redundancy
  • Employment terms and conditions
  • Status and training
  • Dismissal

When discrimination can be legitimate

You should be aware that the sexual discrimination laws do allow for that is called a ‘genuine occupational qualification’ that may seem to be outwardly sexual discrimination, but is not under current sexual discrimination laws. If you work in a same-sex school for instance, your employer can hire an employee with a particular sex. This is not sexual discrimination.

If you have been, or are currently being subjected to gender discrimination at work, you should contact a solicitor as soon as possible. You may be able to sue your employer for gender discrimination and claim compensation. The level of compensation you could receive will depend on the severity of the discrimination and a number of other factors.

Contact Law can select a specialist employment lawyer in your area to bring a claim against your employment for discrimination. Compensation can be high in discrimination claims so it is advised to seek legal representation. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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