UK Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) issued a new guidance for employees and employers on sexual discrimination in the workplace. The guidance sets out four different categories of sexual discrimination: direct, indirect, harassment and victimization. When thinking about sexual discrimination, we might associate it with direct discrimination, such as not getting hired or promoted or being offered poorer employment conditions because of the applicant’s sex, when in fact, there are many different, sometimes more subtle ways of discrimination in the workplace, and employers have to listen to and deal with them appropriately.
Indirect discrimination is when a certain practice is equally applied to all employees but puts some employees who share a protected characteristic at a disadvantage. The guidance also sets out situations where indirect discrimination be justified, although it also explains how hard it is to prove.
The guidance clearly sets out that employers should not dismiss claims of harassment, even if they personally do not agree that the reported incident could be classified as harassment.
The Young Women’s Trust annual report found that one in five young women said that they are too scared to report sexual harassment at work and a quarter of young women would be reluctant to report it for fear of losing their job, or fear of being given fewer hours. Shockingly, 16% of young women know of cases of sexual harassment that employers have not dealt with properly, according to the report.
Workplace discrimination can also take the form of victimisation, when the employee suffers a disadvantage or harm as a result of getting involved in reporting a case of discrimination (such as making an allegation or supporting a complaint).
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