Employment Law

Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Workplace

If you feel that you are being treated unfairly by your employer or work colleagues because of your sexual orientation, you may have a claim for sexual orientation discrimination.

In addition, if you have suffered harassment because of your sexual orientation you may also have a claim. Please contact one of our advisers to discuss. The Employment Tribunal has very strict time-limits for makings claims; usually three months less one day from the date of your complaint. It is therefore important you seek advice as soon as possible.

It is unlawful for your employer to discriminate against you because of your sexual orientation.

What is discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation?

There are three kinds of sexual orientation discrimination. These are:

  • Direct discrimination – This is where for a reason relating to your sexual orientation, you are subjected to less favourable treatment than someone else of a different sexual orientation. Examples of less favourable treatment include being bullied or harassed.
  • Indirect discrimination – This is where your employer operates a rule, practice or procedure that significantly affects you because of your sexual orientation. For example, if your employer has a rule that employees must have children, then this could indirectly discriminate against gay employees.
  • Victimisation – This is where you are victimised because you have raised an issue of unlawful discrimination to your employer or to the Employment Tribunal. An example would be if you complained to your employer that you have been bullied on the grounds of your sexual orientation and as a consequence your employer dismisses or demotes you.

Who can bring a claim for sexual orientation discrimination?

There is no requirement for you to have been employed by your employer for any length of time before you can bring a claim for discrimination. In fact, there is no need for you to actually be an employee. Anyone can bring a claim for unlawful discrimination if:-

  • You have been turned down for a job because of your sexual orientation;
  • You are not actually an “employee” but a “worker” providing services to your employer. For instance, you may be self-employed; or
  • You are not provided with a reference from your old employer because you had complained whilst you were an employee.


If you are successful in proving you have suffered unlawful discrimination, an Employment Tribunal may award you compensation. This is usually compensation for any losses you may suffer (e.g. loss of earnings if you are dismissed) and an award for injury to feelings. There is no limit to the amount of compensation that can be awarded for sexual orientation discrimination.

Time Limits

In order to submit a claim to the Employment Tribunal for sexual orientation discrimination the claim must be submitted within three months less one day from the date of the incident complained of.

Further Information

If you consider you have been subjected to discrimination, please do not hesitate to contact your nearest Ringrose Law office. We have offices in Boston, Grantham, Lincoln, Sleaford and Newark. Ask for a member of the Employment Law team.

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