Employment Law: When Is It Discrimination?

Linkilaw Business News

There has been a lot of progress made in the last couple decades regarding equal opportunity and rights for all workplace employees. However, employment discrimination is still a problem in our society.

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This is partly because of the increased gender equality in the workplace and also cultural diversity; therefore, differences and misunderstandings can sometimes occur between employers and employees.

Regardless, all employees have a right to work in an environment free from any type of discrimination and all employers have a legal obligation to ensure they maintain a discrimination-free workplace.

With this post, you’ll have a much clearer idea of what constitutes employment discrimination and what you can do about it.

When Does Something Become Discrimination?

Proving whether or not employment discrimination has occurred can be tricky and complex. However, common signs that discrimination may be occurring include if the person who feels they’re being discriminated against is constantly being overlooked for promotions, hiring, workplace privileges, bonuses, or even just general workplace treatment.

The first point is being able to recognise the signs of discrimination, which include those mentioned above. The challenge from there is actually being able to prove it.

Generally, though, the step that must be taken is that the claimant needs to raise their concerns with their employer and let them know that they feel some level of discrimination is occurring. Being able to prove what type of discrimination is occurring to your employer will enable them to take steps to eliminate it.

What Constitutes Employment Discrimination?

There are generally five types of employment discrimination; religion, age, race, gender, and disability.


This is when discrimination occurs purely because of the person’s religious beliefs and includes harassment or some other negative treatment simply because of the person’s chosen religion.

Under workplace discrimination laws in most countries, employers must allow their employees days off for certain days of religious worship or commemoration. They should also be permitted to wear certain garments that are associated with their religion and take time for prayer, etc.


All types of racial discrimination are prohibited by law although this doesn’t mean it never happens. Common signs that racial discrimination is occurring are racial slurs and derogatory remarks regarding that person’s ethnicity or skin colour.

Other signs could be being constantly overlooked for promotions, not receiving the same treatment as employees of a different race. This also includes hiring as well and companies are forbidden from refusing to hire a qualified employee purely because of their race or ethnicity.


Behaviours that indicate gender-based discrimination is occurring include unwanted sexual advances, crude sexual remarks because of that person’s gender and a general negative treatment because of their gender. This type of discrimination can occur against both sexes and not one or the other.

Again, this is forbidden by law and all employees must be treated equally regardless of their gender.


Employees can sometimes suffer discrimination like harassment and negative treatment in general because of their age. Many countries have laws whereby employees over the age of 40 are not to be discriminated against and that also includes hiring.


People with disabilities are to be allowed equal opportunity employment rights just like everyone else as long as there is no undue hardship on the business. It is against the law for employers to discriminate against an employee with a disability or some other hardship if they can still adequately perform their role within the business.

What Can You Do To Combat Employment Discrimination?

As we mentioned earlier, proving employment discrimination is not the easiest of tasks and can be rather complex. However, it starts with at least being aware of common signs of each type of discrimination and common behaviours that indicate some form of discrimination is occurring.

The first thing to do is let your employer know how you feel and tell them that you think there is the possibility that a form of discrimination is occurring in your workplace. Often, this can be resolved internally and both parties will come to a mutual conclusion.

Other more serious steps are to inform a union or some other government body about what is happening in your workplace. They will offer you assistance with dealing with this. The UK’s Citizens Advice has some great advice on discrimination.

Lastly, there is always legal action you can take although we recommend you exhaust all other avenues first before going down this road as it can become a very costly and messy affair. Oftentimes, any discrimination issues can be resolved in a mutually beneficial way with both the employee and employer.  

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Employment discrimination will always be an issue that needs to be combated in our society, unfortunately. However, the more that both employers and employees know about it, the more that we can do to help combat this issue and create workplaces free of any type of discrimination.

If you’d like to find out more about employment discrimination or you would like to pursue legal action then get in touch with one of our legal experts today.