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Have you been discriminated against?

It is well documented that pay for women is significantly (18.1% to be precise in 2016) less than men. In the past, even though it wasn’t acceptable, it happened. Today, with all of the data available, along with numerous anti-discrimination laws, it begs to differ why this pay gap still exists.

When advertising jobs, you have to be extremely careful to make sure that you only specify criteria which are crucial in the candidates’ ability to do the job.

An example might be specifying that you need someone that needs to be able to lift and move heavy weights. Having those criteria would be perfectibility reasonable. If you specified that they needed to be a young male, that would be both age and gender discriminatory.

What happens though if a candidate arrives for an interview and they are in a wheelchair? As they can’t walk, they wouldn’t be suitable for the role as you had intended, but could the role be reasonably adapted so they are suitable?

It is crucial that when you do employ someone, you can demonstrate that the person you choose was the most suitable for the job from the candidates you had; provided this is the case, any claims made against you will likely be dismissed.

Under UK law, the following characteristics are protected and can’t be discriminated against:

  • Gender
  • Race
  • Sexuality
  • Marriage
  • Civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Religion or belief
  • Age
  • Gender reassignment

With between 5-10% of the population having dyslexia, with a common aspect of the diagnosis being generally poor at spelling raises questions about whether people with the condition get discriminated upon; would someone who has poor spelling be allowed to be an English teacher? The general rule is that if someone is capable of doing the job, reasonable adjustments should be made to allow them to perform their duties to the best of their ability. If you are unsure, whether you are an employer or an employee, speak to an employment lawyer.

As my opening paragraph mentioned, discrimination actively still happens in the workplace. If you are overlooked for a promotion, is it because of one of the defining protected characteristics, or your ability to do the job? If there are two equally matched employees for the promotion, the reason for promotion might be as simple as whoever gets along with the boss the best if there isn’t another obvious reason!

Given the above reason, could you still have been discriminated against by one of the protected characteristics, hence why they get along the other employee better?

Returning to job adverts, always make sure that you clearly specify the skills needed for the job over specifying any criteria that you personally would like. You are employing someone based on their skills. At the same time, you need to make sure that they are the right fit for your company in terms of personality, which is where you have to be particularly careful in making sure that you don’t discriminate.

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