We offer advice and support concerning discrimination and equal pay to ensure that your workplace provides equal opportunities for all.

The law establishes the following as protected characteristics:

  • age
  • sex (gender)
  • sexual orientation
  • race (which includes nationality, national origins, colour, ethnicity)
  • religion or belief
  • disability
  • marriage or civil partnership
  • pregnancy and/or maternity
  • gender reassignment.

There are various forms of discrimination that may arise in connection with these characteristics. Employers should be aware of these and know how to avoid acting in a discriminatory manner in relation to recruitment, employing staff, preparing and establishing policies, and terminating employment. The types of discrimination protected in relation to all of the characteristics above under the Equality Act 2010 are:

  • direct discrimination
  • indirect discrimination
  • harassment
  • victimisation.

There are two additional forms that are specific to people with a disability:

  • discrimination arising from a disability
  • duty to make reasonable adjustments.

Equal pay arguments are a separate form of discrimination, specifically in connection with men and women being paid equally for equal work, or work of equal value.

Often an employee may cite allegations of discrimination in a grievance (whether formal or informal). We can help you to explore with them what the allegation is, and how best to deal with it. We can also advise you on avoiding inadvertently “victimising” the employee if allegations are raised.

Employees may also allege that they have been “harassed” but this is not always connected with a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. It may mean bullying, which should be dealt with properly under the grievance policy, but harassment has its own specific meaning. We can assist you in establishing the best way to deal with any complaints and the difference in the meanings.


Should you receive an Employment Tribunal claim, or ACAS Early Conciliation notification, for discrimination or equal pay, please contact a member of the Ashtons Legal Employment Law team as soon as possible. These claims can be complex and dealing with them at the earliest opportunity is the best approach.


We are also pleased to offer equality and diversity training for staff in connection with Ashtons HR Consulting. This can be held at your premises or at our office. Not only can this help with supporting the workforce as a whole, but it can also be helpful in defending any claims for discrimination should they arise.


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