What are the rules concerning discrimination due to age, disability, gender reassignment etc

What are the rules concerning discrimination due to age, disability, gender reassignment etc

By law, you cannot discriminate against your workers because of their age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; and sexual orientation. There are many types of discrimination including direct discrimination (e.g. treating an old person less favourably than a young person because of their age) and harassment (e.g. subjecting someone  to unwanted conducted related to their disability which violates their dignity or creates  an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or degrading environment).

There are other types of discrimination too. For further information, see https://www.gov.uk/employer-preventing-discrimination.  It is best to seek independent advice if you have any issues relating to discrimination. One issue that has recently been in the courts is the wearing of religious symbols.  There have been two decisions in the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) about whether the employer in each case breached  the employee’s human rights by refusing to allow them to wear a crucifix.  The ECtHR ruled in one case that the decision of the employers to dismiss the member of staff was valid as the wearing of a crucifix could have impinged on health and safety issues.

However, in the second case, the ECtHR ruled in favour of the employee as the stated aim of the employers in enforcing a dress code was to project a corporate image, which they did not find to be a legitimate aim. So, you may not agree with your staff member wearing the symbol of a religion which perhaps does not match your own beliefs, but there are lessons to be learned from these judgements.

It seems that while health and safety may provide a legitimate reason for dictating that a cross should not be worn, dismissing someone simply because it offends you or you disagree in principle with the concept, does not provide you with cause for dismissal. As always, think twice and then take professional advice before taking action to avoid costly litigation.