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March 2008

What’s New?

Discrimination on the grounds of
Sexual Orientation

A recent case has clarified the scope of the regulations introduced at the end of 2003 prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

It has confirmed that someone who is subjected to homophobic banter where it is known that they are not gay will not be able to claim under the Regulations.

However, the case has confirmed that someone who is believed to be gay (whether or not they are) will still be able to claim under the Regulations as will anyone who is discriminated against because of their association with a person of a particular sexual orientation (for example, their former spouse or a friend or relative).

How does it affect me?

This case serves as a reminder that employers and their employees will need to ensure that they are familiar with and comply with the regulations prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The discrimination provisions cover not only the recruitment and dismissal of staff but also how staff are treated by their managers and colleagues – a single inappropriate comment or act could result in a claim for discrimination and the amount of compensation that can be awarded in discrimination cases is potentially unlimited.

Even though this employee failed with his claim under the discrimination legislation, he would still have had potential claims against his employer for constructive dismissal and unfair dismissal on account of the treatment that he was subjected to.

What do I Need to Do?

  • Make sure that managers and staff are fully aware of the scope of the discrimination legislation – including the newer categories covered – Sexual Orientation, Age, Religion or Belief
  • Have an up-to-date Equal Opportunities Policy in place. This is important as it will help the employer to show that it is aware of its legal obligations and has taken steps to ensure that its staff comply with them
  • Have a Grievance procedure in place so that anyone who feels that they have been discriminated against has the opportunity to raise it internally, with their employer, at the time so that any complaints can be investigated and dealt with as appropria

If you have a query or would like to find out more about our services, please contact Paul Lane on 020 7712 1715 or email

Please note: The content of this Update does not constitute advice and it is not intended to be a comprehensive and definitive statement of the law. Advice should always be taken as to individual circumstances. Please refer to our Terms of Use.


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