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Millions of workers deal with discrimination at work.
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Getting help and advice about discrimination at work

You have the right under UK law: *

  • To work free from discrimination, harassment, victimisation and degrading treatment at work

  • To not be treated unfairly because of your race, your gender, your age, your religion or belief or your sexual orientation


Discrimination means being treated differently because of who you are. Discrimination is extremely damaging to individuals and can create huge inequality in workplaces and society.  


You have the right to work in freedom from discrimination, harassment, victimisation and degrading treatment at work and it is illegal to treat you unfairly because of your race, your gender, your age, your religion or belief or your sexual orientation. For example, the Equality Act makes it is illegal to discriminate, harass and victimise on the grounds of disability and requires employers to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled people. The Act defines a person with a disability as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.



There are many different types of discrimination, and they can be direct or indirect:


Direct discrimination is when you are treated worse than someone else because of a protected characteristic such as your race, gender, age, religion or sexual orientation. 


Indirect discrimination is when an employer has workplace policies that apply to everyone but that specific groups of people are disadvantaged. Indirect discrimination can be where a change is imposed that impacts disproportionately on one group of workers, such as imposing a shift pattern that means working mothers find it more difficult to work than men because of child care responsibilities.


Discrimination isn’t just about being treated unfairly but it is also about being treated differently because of one of the characteristics described above. When thinking about discrimination, ask “would this be happening if I were a man?” or “would this be happening if I was not gay” or “would this be happening if I was not a trade union member?”. If the answer is yes, then you may be the victim of discrimination. 


If you think that you are being discriminated against then you should contact us straight away and speak to a union representative.


It is a good idea to keep a diary of events if you begin to think that you may be a victim of discrimination. This could include copies of emails, writing down comments that were said to you - including what comments were made, who said it, what they said and when they said it.

Your union representative is your starting point for getting help from us with any problem at work.


Sometimes members feel that they can sort things out on their own, but it is important to talk to your union representative as soon as possible. Sometimes trying to sort out an issue without proper advice can make the problem much worse. We are here to help you and you can contact your union representative by calling 0333 2423 526.


Your union representative will discuss the situation with you, agree a way forward with you and together they will help you achieve the best possible outcome for you.


You have a legal right to belong to a trade union and your employer is forbidden from treating you unfavourably because you join a trade union, take part in trade union activities or use the services trade unions provide for their members.  You also have a right to be accompanied by a trade union representative at any grievance meetings, disciplinary hearings and disciplinary appeals.

* From the Equalities Act (2010)

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