The workplace brings together lots of people who may have nothing in common other than their jobs. Most employees usually seem to get along with one another and put aside any personal and cultural differences. Occasionally, however, employees do not get along as colleagues at work and this spills over into incidents of unacceptable behaviour such as discriminatory treatment or harassment.
Sometimes offensive behaviour is not intentional, or the recipient of the behaviour is seen to be 'over-sensitive'. Occasionally a company may have rules or systems that may lead to discrimination.
Discrimination can be overt, but sometimes it can be hidden and subtle. It can be seen when one group of people are given a particular job or access to training, better terms and conditions of employment, workplace facilities and promotion.
Treating people less favourably than others on grounds of sexual orientation, religion or belief. For example a job advertisement that openly says 'no disabled people need apply'. However in reality discrimination often takes more subtle or indirect forms. Some examples are:
Applying a provision, criterion or practice which disadvantages people due to race or ethnic origin, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, religion or belief. An example of indirect discrimination is requiring all people who apply for a certain job to sit a test in a particular language, even though that language is not necessary for the job. Some examples are:
Unwanted conduct that violates people's dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment on grounds of race or ethnic origin, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, religion or belief. Some examples are:
Victimisation - treating people less favourably because of something they have done under or in connection with the legislation, e.g. made a formal complaint of discrimination or given evidence in a tribunal case. Making life difficult for someone who complains about the way they are being treated or discriminating against someone who supports the victim by, for example, not speaking to them or even making them unemployed.
The impact of such behaviour, apart from possibly leading to legal action, can sour working relations and may lead to the departure of valued employees or to the loss of business. The victims can suffer personal stress and economic hardship.
All organisations need to look at how they can prevent discrimination from taking place across any of these different grounds.
The responsibility to treat everyone in the workplace fairly extends to both employers and employees. It is possible that individuals acting in a discriminatory way could also be subject to legal action by a victim.
The One Workplace Equal Rights Campaign aims to provide information and to support Trade Union representatives, officials and members on how to implement these new rights on the ground through our Hotline, and via our events and seminars.
For more Information, click www.stop-discrimination.info