Sex discrimination

Jeya Thiruchelvam

Editor's message: The law on sex discrimination is embodied in the Equality Act 2010, which prohibits direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation because of the protected characteristic of sex.

The concept of direct discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 is very wide. As well as the less favourable treatment of a person because of his or her own sex, direct sex discrimination extends to less favourable treatment because of a person's perceived sex, even where that perception is wrong. This could occur, for example, where an employer rejects a CV from a man who it wrongly believes to be a woman because of his name.

Direct sex discrimination also covers the situation where a person is treated less favourably because of someone else’s sex, for example because of the sex of his or her colleagues, friends or relatives.

Jeya Thiruchelvam, senior employment law editor

New and updated

  • Podcast: Is your workplace dress code sexist?

    Date:
    10 March 2017
    Type:
    Audio and video

    Requirements for women to wear high heels, make-up and a skirt were common in the 1970s, but do such requirements have any place in a 21st-century employer's dress code? In this week's podcast, we discuss the recent controversy around sexism in workplace dress codes.

  • Podcast: Justifying indirect discrimination

    Date:
    24 February 2017
    Type:
    Audio and video

    In this week's podcast, we explore the steps that you can take to reduce the risk of having an indirectly discriminatory provision, criterion or practice. We also discuss what to take into account when deciding whether or not indirect discrimination can be justified.

  • Dads face negative bias in quest for work-life balance

    Date:
    22 February 2017
    Type:
    News

    Fathers face a negative bias when seeking a better work-life balance or applying for part-time employment, a new study suggests.

  • Date:
    17 February 2017
    Type:
    Legal guidance

    When receptionist Nicola Thorp was sent home from an assignment for wearing flat shoes it created a flurry of debate and a subsequent parliamentary inquiry. Now the results of the inquiry have been published, what does this mean for employers who operate uniform or dress code policies?

  • Sex discrimination

    Type:
    Employment law manual

    Updated to include information on Bellman v Northampton Recruitment Ltd, a personal injury case that may have implications for discriminatory behaviour by employees towards colleagues or third parties.

  • Sexist dress codes could attract stricter punishment and fines

    Date:
    25 January 2017
    Type:
    News

    Employers that enforce sexist dress codes could be in line for stricter punishment and fines, if the Government follows recommendations set out in a new report.

  • Homeworking employee not unlawfully discriminated against by requirement to arrange childcare

    Date:
    16 January 2017
    Type:
    Law reports

    This employment tribunal held, in White v Propharma Group MIS Ltd, that the employer had not indirectly discriminated against a female employee by requiring her to remove potential interruptions while working at home by arranging childcare.

  • Breastfeeding: easyJet's flexible working policy leads to £35,000 award

    Date:
    6 December 2016
    Type:
    Law reports

    In this well-publicised case, easyJet's refusal to limit the shift lengths of two cabin crew who were breastfeeding led to awards for indirect sex discrimination totalling almost £35,000.

  • Date:
    1 December 2016
    Type:
    Legal guidance

    What were the most significant employment case law decisions in 2016? Stephen Simpson counts down the 10 most important judgments for employers this year.

  • Gender

    Type:
    Good practice manual

    Updated to reflect the latest gender pay gap figures, as reported in the Annual survey of hours and earnings 2016.