Sexual Orientation

Site updated on August 5, 2016

In December 2003, employment protection was introduced to protect workers and job seekers from discrimination based on Sexual Orientation. This legislation is wide ranging and covers everyone in the workplace, not just “gay” workers. It protects heterosexual as well as homosexual men and women. If you have suffered abuse, harassment or discrimination you may be entitled to compensation from your Employer. The relevant legislation is now the Equality Act 2010.  The law covers any self employed contractors and agency workers who are harassed because of their sexual orientation too.

There is no length of service required to make a claim of discrimination and the compensation available is unlimited as it includes damages to feelings and future loss of earnings. Once you have had a claim accepted it will be down to your Employer to produce evidence that your treatment was not down to discrimination. If you are suffering abuse or harassment at work and you feel that this is because of your sexuality you must inform your Employer or trade union rep. You cannot accuse your Employer of not protecting you if you have not raised it with them. It may be advisable to keep a diary or log of the incidents of harassment or bullying, for future reference as evidence.

In December 2005, The Civil Partnership Act came into force. This provides for same sex couples to have their relationship legally recognised. In 2014 same sex marriages were recognised too.  This will cover many aspects of law and relationships, but does have an impact on employment too. If you enter into a Civil Partnership or same sex marriage, your Employer should offer you the same rights and benefits as they offer to other married couples. This would include death in service pension benefits for example.

If you are being subject to abuse based on your sexual orientation, or because of an association to this characteristic,  and wish to get further advice Contact a solicitor or our Advice Line.

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