June is Pride month, when the LGBTQ+ community celebrates with a series of events. It’s a joyful and fun time, but it’s also a protest - there are still battles to be fought, especially when it comes to discrimination in the workplace. Nobody should be made to feel uncomfortable because of their sexual orientation whether they’re in a single-sex relationship, are trans, or gender fluid. Yet even in the 21st century there are some workplaces where being gay can lead to discrimination, physical and verbal abuse, and even dismissal. To mark Pride month, we look at the legal rights gay and gender-fluid workers have under the current legislation.
Since 2010 it has been against the law to discriminate against a job candidate, employee or trainee based on their sexual orientation. So, an employer refusing to promote someone based purely on the fact that they’re gay or trans is illegal, and the employer can (and should) be taken to court.
Discrimination is defined into four different types.
To ensure that LGBTQ+ workers are treated fairly and equally, employers must have rigid workplace policies that avoid any kind of discrimination. These should apply not just to the working environment, but to recruitment, training, promotion, pay levels, and discipline/grievance processes. In fact, from the moment an employee walks through the door to the moment they leave at the end of the day, it is up to the employer to ensure the workplace is one where discrimination and harassment are eliminated completely, regardless of the sexual orientation of an employee, contractor, or visitor.
Anything from an inappropriate ‘joke’ to verbal or even physical abuse based purely on the sexual orientation of the victim is classed as harassment. That also includes written content, so a meme or social media joke that targets gay people and shared via an internal email system, for example, would constitute harassment.
It’s important that employers take complaints of harassment seriously. Passing it off as ‘just a bit of workplace banter’ is wholly unacceptable and no excuse for abusive behaviour of any kind. If a complaint is put in, then the employer has a legal duty to investigate it and respond.
For over 40 years, the LGBTQ+ community have been fighting against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. It’s down to the employer and other employees to ensure that a hostile, toxic environment is eliminated, and that everyone is treated fairly and equally. We’ve come a long way in the last few decades, but there is still room for improvement in every workplace. The law makes it easier and less intimidating for LGBTQ+ workers to challenge harassment, but it’s up to everyone to make sure that everyone is made to feel worthwhile, welcomed, and valued in the workplace, regardless of their sexual orientation.
If you feel you’ve been discriminated against based on your gender or sexuality, talk to us.
Contact Hannah Strawbridge on 01484 821 300 or firstname.lastname@example.org