Sex Discrimination

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No employee or potential employee should receive less favourable treatment because of their sex or be disadvantaged by any conditions of employment any practice or requirements that cannot be justified. This law is governed by the Equality Act 2010 and covers sex discrimination in recruitment, promotion, terms and conditions of employment, training, disciplinary and grievance procedures, dismissals, and redundancy.

Sex discrimination can take the following forms:-

Direct Sex Discrimination

This is where a person (A) treats another (B), because of their sex, less favourably than A treats or would treat others.

For example, if an employer had a rule that it employed only men (even though this would not affect the person’s ability to do the job) then women could claim sex discrimination. Less favourable treatment of a woman because she is breastfeeding would also be direct sex discrimination.

Indirect Sex Discrimination

This is where an employer applies a provision, criterion or practice equally to both men and women but it puts one sex at an unfair disadvantage. So, if an employer had a rule that it would only employ applicants over 6ft tall (even though this would not affect the person’s ability to do the job) then this would be indirect sex discrimination because there are less women than men over 6ft tall and hence women are at a disadvantage in complying with this criterion.

An employer may argue that an act of indirect discrimination is justifiable provided it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. In the above example though the criterion has nothing to do with the job and hence would not be justifiable.


A person (A) harasses another (B) if:

(a) A engages in unwanted conduct related to B’s sex; and

(b) the conduct has the purpose or effect of (i) violating B’s dignity or (ii) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for B.

Harassment also covers harassment of a sexual nature. Specifically, A also harasses B if A engages in unwanted conduct of a sexual nature and it has the purpose or effect set out above.

Further harassment can also occur where the above harassment takes place and then because of B’s rejection of the harassment or submission to it, A treats B less favourably than A would have treated B had B not rejected or submitted to the conduct. An example of this type of harassment would be where a male manager makes sexual advances to a female colleague, she rejects his advances and indirect consequence to this, the male manager denies her training but not her colleagues.


A person (A) victimizes another person (B) if A subjects B to a detriment because B raises a grievance about sex discrimination, brings a claim of sex discrimination, complains about or alleges sex discrimination, or gives evidence or information in relation to someone else’s sex discrimination claim or because A believes that B has done or may do one of those things. So if for example you are denied promotion or training because of your involvement in a complaint of sex discrimination, this may be considered victimization.

If an allegation is made in bad faith or false evidence or information is given this may mean you are not protected.

If you think that you have suffered any kind of sex discrimination then contact us for an initial telephone consultation to assess the merits of your case.