Sex Discrimination Act 1975, amended 1986 and 1999
The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 is designed to prevent unlawful discrimination on grounds of sex, marriage and race in employment, education and training, in the provision of goods and services and in the disposal of premises. In addition the Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999, which became effective on 1 May 1999, make it unlawful to discriminate on grounds of gender reassignment in employment and vocational training. The Acts apply in the whole of Great Britain with the exception of Northern Ireland. Those who feel they have suffered unlawful discrimination in recruitment or employment can complain to an employment tribunal. Each act contains a part headed 'Discrimination in the employment field', which covers both discrimination against applicants for employment and against existing employees. As far as prospective job applicants are concerned, it is unlawful to discriminate on grounds of race, sex (including undergoing or having undergone gender reassignment) or marriage. The employer is generally liable for acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation in the workplace. However, individual employees may also be liable for example if they have subjected a colleague to harassment related to sex. * Sex discrimination can arise in relation to:
* the arrangements made for deciding who should be offered employment such as shortlisting and interviews. * the terms upon which employment is offered.
* refusing or deliberately omitting to offer employment. * the ways in which access to opportunities for promotion, transfer, training or other benefits, facilities or services are offered. * dismissal or any other detriment.
The Act allows employers to treat someone with a protected characteristic more favourably during the process of recruitment and promotion. If they "reasonably" think the person with a protected characteristic was disadvantaged because of that characteristic (or there are fewer people with a particular protected characteristic employed), they can choose that person over someone who does not have the characteristic provided that: • The person is “as qualified” as the other candidate. • The employer does not have a recruitment or promotion policy of treating people of the underrepresented group more favourably. • The more favourable treatment is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim (the legitimate aim being encouraging participation and overcoming disadvantage). These provisions are voluntary. An employee cannot bring a claim because the employer did not apply positive action during the recruitment or promotion process, although they may still be able to bring a claim if they were discriminated against during it.
Unlawful discrimination covers:
Direct sex discrimination
Direct sex discrimination occurs when an employer treats a woman less favourably than a man, because of sex. In order to determine whether someone is directly discriminated against a comparison has to be made with someone of a different sex but whose circumstances are the same or not materially different. The definition is wide enough to cover those who are also discriminated against because they are perceived to be of a particular sex or because they are associated with someone of a particular sex. For examples, a female apprentice electrician and all her colleagues are men. She feels like even though her work is of a high standard, her boss constantly criticizes her and shouts at her whereas he does not bully the men in this way. A new male apprentice has started at work and he is receiving much more one to one training and assistance. She asked for the same training which she need in order to complete her apprenticeship but her boss called her a 'stupid little girl' and said that if she couldn't do the job properly she should leave. Her colleagues often play tricks on her such as putting her tools on a high shelf where...
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