As a worker in the UK, you are protected by one of the most comprehensive and far reaching anti-discrimination laws in Europe – the Equality Act 2010.
Discrimination law is complex. The Equality Act brings together over 116 separate pieces of legislation into one single Act. Combined, they make up the new Act that provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all. It will be no surprise that knowing what your rights are and what you can do about protecting them needs a specialist who knows what they are doing.
What are the protected characteristics?
There are nine protected characteristics in the Equality Act. It us unlawful to discriminate against someone because of one of more of these. It doesn’t matter how long you have worked somewhere to claim or enforce your rights.
If you’re treated unfairly because someone thinks you belong to a group of people with protected characteristics, this is also unlawful discrimination.
The characteristics that are protected by the Equality Act 2010 are:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage or civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
We all have some of these characteristics – for example, sex or age – so the Act protects everyone from discrimination. Some overlap – like race, religion and belief, or sex and pregnancy discrimination.
Discrimination by association
The Act also protects you if people in your life, like family members or friends, have a protected characteristic and you’re treated unfairly because of that. This is called discrimination by association. For example, if you’re discriminated against because your son is gay or partner has a disability.
I’m afraid to complain about discrimination
The Equality Act protects you if you’re treated badly because you’ve complained about discrimination or stood up for discrimination rights, either for yourself or for someone else. We will help to protect you and enforce your rights.
What compensation am I entitled to?
Unlike in normal unfair dismissal claims, there is no maximum amount of compensation a Tribunal can award you.
In addition to damages for any losses you have suffered – such as wages or pension, compensation normally includes an award for injury to feelings. Tribunals are guided in what to award.
- Lower band (less serious cases): £900 to £9,000
- Middle band: £9,000 to £27,000
- Upper band (the most serious cases): £27,000 to £45,000
In exceptional cases, the award will be over £45,000
What do I do now?
This is where we come in. Employment law is all we do.
It can often feel like your employer holds all the power. They will likely have experienced HR professionals or a solicitor working in the background. That’s why you need the best support and advice available. You need a specialist employment lawyer – one who will push for the best outcome for you.
We understand how it feels. We have helped hundreds of employees and because we act for businesses too, we know the tactics you’re likely to face from your employer. We know every trick in the book.
We will advise you of your options and how best to proceed – whether you want to return to work or negotiate an exit on your behalf.
You only have a limited amount of time to take action to preserve your employment rights – usually just three months (less one day) from the date of the last act of discrimination, or when your employment ends.
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