Employment solicitor, James Conley joined The Law Society Pride Month #SolicitorChat to discuss employment discrimination and suggest ways that businesses can make sure their company safe and welcoming for the LGBTQ+ community.
Q1. What is the Equality Act 2010 and the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and how do they protect employees?
The Equality Act 2010 protects employees against discrimination in the workplace. The Gender Recognition Act 2004 specifically governs how trans people can have their identity legally recognised, which naturally includes their employer.
The Equality Act 2010 and the Gender Recognition Act 2004 both look to protect the rights of individuals, including employees in the workplace, with the ultimate aim of increasing equality at all stages of your employment.
Q2. What should someone do if they’re being harassed or bullied at work because of their sexual orientation or gender identity?
If you feel you are being harassed or bullied it is important to raise a grievance which outlines how you have been harassed or bullied and send it to someone who is either the equality officer (if your company has one), HR manager or a senior member of management as soon as possible.
If you have been targeted because of your sexual orientation or identity, defined as harassment, you may have an employment claim under the Equality Act 2010.
Q3. How can a solicitor help someone who has been discriminated against because of their gender identity or sexual orientation?
Claims of discrimination can be a complex area of law, engaging the services of a solicitor will ensure that you the expert skill and knowledge to pursue the claim against your employer and those who have discriminated against you and recover compensation for injury to your feelings as a result. Discrimination cases can also be very emotive, having a solicitor working on your behalf will ensure that they have the ability to remain emotionally impartial and not impair any legal judgement and therefore work in your best interests.
Q4. How can employers make their company a safe and welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ employees?
Failing to provide a safe and welcoming environment within the workplace will have a detrimental effect on any business. We would suggest discussing the following points with your HR team, you can also partner with local LGBTQ+ networks or organisations who can help you identify if your recruitment processes are LGBTQ+ friendly.
- Have an equal rights policy and enforce it.
- Do not tolerate harassment or bullying of any kind towards any staff, including those who identify as LGBT+.
- Training staff in equal opportunities will help them learn about how they can make LGBTQ+ staff feel welcome in the workplace.
Q5. Why is it important not to make assumptions about others in the workplace, specifically members of the LGBTQ+ community?
Generally, your assumptions are an internal thought process based on your own values, predictions, and past experiences. The way we look, act, and feel varies from person to person and should not be factor when appraising an employee’s work, doing so could easily lead to conflict in the workplace. The appraisal of a person’s work should always be based on their behaviour or performance at work.
The Steeles Law employment team regularly post new updates, practical tips and industry insights relating to all aspects of employment law within the workplace. For more information, please see our recent news articles:
If you would like to speak to a member of the Steeles Law Employment team surrounding equality and discrimination in the workplace along with the steps you can take to build a gender-equal workplace, or you would like further information on the points raised in our Pride Month Employment article please call 01603 59800 or complete the ‘Get in touch’ online enquiry form and a member of the team will contact you.
*The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.