sex discrimination in the workplace

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sex discrimination at work

Sex discrimination in the workplace is a major problem. It stops women pursuing the careers they have chosen, and it deters women from entering professions and careers too. It is unlawful to discriminate, i.e. treat a woman unfavourably because of her sex but it still happens. Gender discrimination in the workplace has been highlighted by the #metoo movement but it has not been eradicated.

Sex is a protected characteristic and refers to men and women of any age. If there is a group suffering discrimination because of sex it includes men and/or boys and women and/or girls. We routinely see women being treated differently from men at work. For the legislation, a man in a similar position to the woman suffering discrimination is called a comparator. Sex discrimination by a woman against another woman or by a man against another man is also unlawful discrimination.

Sex discrimination applies to men as well as women, but we rarely see cases where men are the victims of sex discrimination at work. This is probably linked to societal bias. Sex discrimination does not include gender reassignment or sexual orientation which are protected separately under the Equality Act 2010.

To understand your basic rights around sex discrimination at work check out the Equality and Human Rights Commission online advice and guidance.

There are many times of sex discrimination:

  • Direct – “I won’t be promoting you because you are a woman and you might get pregnant”
  • Indirect – “we are going to have all our team meetings at 7pm in the evening (irrespective of your family responsibilities”)
  • Harassment – there are 3 types:
    • Unwanted conduct causing distress, humiliation, offence
    • Unwanted conduct of a sexual nature – this is sexual harassment
    • Less favourable treatment because you have rejected sexual harassment or been a victim of it
  • Victimisation – treating you unfairly because you have made a complaint about sex discrimination or have supported a colleague who has made a complaint

For more advice try these links:

Citizens Advice


Sex discrimination in the workplace destroys lives. You do not have to put up with it. Take advice. A sex discrimination claim need not mean litigation but if it does, we will support you throughout the process. Don’t let unwanted conduct ruin your life. Claim sex discrimination compensation and take back control of the situation. You might think this was never going to happen to you and that it will resolve itself but that is unlikely.

We’ve acted for scores of incredible, driven, powerful women whose careers are being stymied and lives being made miserable by sex discrimination in the workplace and sexual harassment. Don’t be one of them.

Find further useful information on sex discrimination below:

The Equality and Human Rights Commission Advice and guidance on equality and discrimination law. Their Statutory Code of Practice has a wealth of information about discrimination rights and can be downloaded.

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