UK Employment Solicitors -

Sex Discrimination Solicitors - Employment Tribunal Compensation Claims

The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 which applies in England, Scotland and Wales prohibits discrimination on the basis of a person’s gender or marital status and covers transsexuals. Similar legislation applies in Northern Ireland. Those protected under the legislation include :-

  • contract workers
  • employees
  • job applicants
  • former employees
  • voluntary workers
  • self-employed

Getting an award of compensation in a case based on gender starts with an application by a sex discrimination solicitor to the Employment Tribunal based on one or more of the following statutes:

  • Sex Discrimination Act 1975 – Establishes that differential treatment of employees based solely on their marital status or sex is unlawful.
  • Equal Opportunities Commission Code of Practice 1985 – Establishes the concept of equal opportunities for women and men and on the job and during application for employment.
  • Equal Pay Act 1970 – Establishes that a man and a woman doing similar or the same jobs are to be paid the same, with equal benefits.
  • Employment Equality Regulations 2003 – Establishes that employers must not discriminate on the basis of sexual preferences or sexual orientation and makes such mistreatment unlawful.

You are not legally required to instruct a solicitor in order to make an application to the Employment Tribunal for a sex discrimination claim however you are well-advised to do so because a substantial amount of money is at stake. The damages award can be considerable because there is no statutory cap on the amount that can be awarded in a successful sex discrimination case. It is also in your best interest to instruct a solicitor because the employer will almost undoubtedly be represented by a very experienced solicitor or barrister during the hearing.

Note :- There are forms of sex discrimination which are considered “positive” and are therefore lawful. These include situations when a business’s customers would be uncomfortable with an employee who was not of the same sex. One example of this is a toilet attendant. Another situation when sex discrimination is permissible is in hiring same sex models for men or women’s clothing.

Sexual Harassment

A definition generally considered for sexual harassment is, "unwanted conduct based on sex affecting the dignity of women and men at work." Ultimately, it is your feelings that decide whether conduct directed at you is offensive or not. If your feelings tell you that the conduct was based on sex and was unwanted and if such conduct occurred on your job, you should report the conduct to someone more senior than yourself. If nothing is done, it is your right to instruct a sex discrimination solicitor who will in almost every case, attempt negotiations for settlement with your employer however if that fails, the solicitor will apply to the Employment Tribunal for redress. There are no limits to the amount of compensation that can be awarded for sexual harassment claims.

Due to the abstract nature of sexual harassment it may be troublesome to measure or appraise. Some conduct is easily quantified as improper including obscene jokes, inappropriate physical contact or sending lewd, suggestive or risqué emails. What follows is a fractional list of conduct that Employment Tribunals have ruled inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature:

  • requesting sexual favours
  • suggestive remarks or gestures
  • threats or acts that involve sexual violence
  • unwanted touching or fondling
  • jokes, which are inappropriate
  • viewing of pornography (pictures or websites
  • sexual advances that are unwanted
  • vulgar or lewd comments
  • sexual hints or overtones
  • pestering for attention
  • displaying obscene material

There is a statutory requirement for all employers to implement a policy regarding sexual harassment in the workplace and communicate that policy to all employees. That policy needs to contain clarification of procedures to handle alleged sexual harassment. Employers might be held liable for harassment, even when the employer is not the guilty party, and/or when they fail to take suitable actions against the accused worker.

Severe incidents of sexual harassment can be investigated as criminal offenses under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Solicitors experienced in severe sexual harassment cases might further consider a claim for damages in a civil claim in the County Court.

The Equal Opportunities Commission has made suggestions to clarify sexual harassment regulations, acts and statutes:

  • implement a concise, inclusive policy to prevent sexual harassment
  • continuously monitor and make revisions, when necessary to the policy to make sure it remains sufficient
  • make sure everyone is informed and completely comprehends the policy
  • take all accusations seriously and be conscious and concerned to the severe effect it could have in the workplace and on the victim
  • set the example by your actions and make sure your managers and supervisors know they are directly responsible for violation of the policy

Victimisation Protection

The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 also applies if there is less favourable treatment to a person who has complained and indicated that they intend to make an application to the Employment Tribunal or have given evidence in the Employment Tribunal or have alleged illegal activity in relation to the sexual discrimination, race relations and disability discrimination legislation. Individuals are subsequently protected against victimisation if an allegation of misconduct is made in good faith and fails in the Employment Tribunal.


Pregnancy discrimination is one specific type of sex discrimination

Sex discrimination may also occur where an employer has treated a person differently or less favourably because they have a condition which applies only to one sex. It is illegal for an employer to dismiss a woman because she is pregnant or because she must attend antenatal appointments or for taking maternity leave. If a woman is treated differently then an application for compensation can be made to the Employment Tribunal.

Direct & Indirect Sex Discrimination

Direct sex discrimination comprises incidents when the employer blatantly and openly treats an employee differently because of their sex. In these cases, the sex discrimination is simply irrefutable and undeniable.

Indirect sex discrimination is much more subtle than direct discrimination. The employer is not engaging in outright discriminatory behaviour towards the employee. Rather, the employer discriminates against the employee by intentionally placing obstacles in their way in order to deny them equal employment opportunities. For example, women tend to be shorter than men. It would, then, be a form of indirect discrimination for an employer to arbitrarily and unjustifiably require that an applicant for a job be at least six feet tall.

Unlimited Damages

Applications as a result of sex discrimination against workers in Sheffield are made to the Employment Tribunal which can make a recommendation, a declaration or award compensation. Compensation may include loss of earnings, loss of benefits and pension, injury to feelings and can include an award for aggravated damages if the behaviour has been particularly offensive. There is no limit to the amount of compensation that can be awarded in discrimination claims which can result in very high financial orders being made against employers.

Employers Liability

Employers are responsible for employees working conditions. Employers cannot use the excuse that they didn't know discrimination was going on, or say that it was not the intent. Unless an employer does everything reasonable to prevent discrimination, they may be found financially liable for compensation when an employee is harmed.

This protection for employees includes work related activities outside the workplace. If you believe that you were discriminated against due to your gender at work or at a work related event just call our helpline for sound advice regarding your employment rights.

Time Limits

Generally, there is a three month time limit required to bring a claim of sex discrimination from the date of the last incident or from the date of dismissal. In some cases the Employment Tribunal has discretion to extend the time period when there are valid reasons.