Today we want to talk about gender discrimination – what forms it can take, how prevalent it is, and what you can do to fight it. At Arlingsworth, we believe in taking a stand against discrimination. We’ve helped dozens of people with discrimination over the years, and we understand it can be very upsetting. Here’s our short guide to one kind of discrimination in particular, and that’s gender discrimination.

What is gender discrimination?

Under UK Employment Law, there are four main types of gender discrimination:


Harassment is when uninvited behaviour or conduct that is related to a person’s gender is highly offensive or causes the person stress and discomfort. This could be of a sexual nature, or take the form of verbal abuse.

Direct Discrimination

If someone is treated differently or unfairly compared to their colleagues because of their gender, this is known as direct discrimination. As an example, refusing to hire a perfectly good candidate just because they are female would be considered direct discrimination.

The term applies to any unfair treatment of someone because of their:

    • own gender (direct discrimination)
    • perceived gender (direct discrimination by perception)
    • or association or friendship with someone of a particular gender (direct discrimination by association)

Indirect discrimination

Indirect discrimination is when the rules or practices of a workplace unfairly affect certain people within it. In regards to gender, this could be as innocuous as stipulating that all workers have to be over six foot tall, therefore disadvantaging women, who are on average below six foot.


If somebody makes a complaint about gender discrimination, then is treated unfairly due to making a complaint, this is known as victimisation.

Don’t stand for gender discrimination

Any form of discrimination should never be tolerated. Not only is it stressful and upsetting, but it is also unlawful. The Equality Act of 2010 makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against employees because of their gender. This is why all employers should make sure they have policies in place which are designed to prevent gender discrimination in the following areas:

    • recruitment and workload
    • pay and bonuses
    • training and development
    • opportunities for promotion
    • cases of discipline and grievances
    • dealing with bullying and harassment

How prevalent is gender discrimination?

It seems to be particularly prevalent around the subject of maternity. According to a recent Government-commissioned study, three out of four mothers, that’s as many as 54,000 a year in the UK, felt forced to leave their jobs after returning to work. One in five said they experienced harassment or negative comments about flexible working or being pregnant. Comment came from both employers and colleagues.

In our opinion, these figures are far too high, and should be tackled quickly. Fortunately, the Equality and Human Rights Commission report has already urged the Government to take action to address this problem.

How to deal with gender discrimination

If you have been discriminated against, as well as seeking redress, you may be entitled to compensation.

If you feel you been discriminated against, it’s always best to try and resolve the matter with your employer or colleague informally if you can. However, if the situation can’t be fixed, then you can bring a claim to what’s called an Employment Tribunal. That’s why it’s important to keep any copies of correspondence, such as emails, letters, and even notes and dates of comments.

There is a small fee for bringing a claim to a tribunal, and another if the claim goes to a hearing.

Both bringing a claim and preparing for a hearing can be complicated, especially if the discrimination has been going on for some time. That’s why we would always recommend seeking legal advice the moment you start thinking about tribunals and legal action.

Talk to Arlingsworth

If you need help claiming compensation for a case of gender discrimination, then talk to Arlingsworth. We’re experience, compassionate, and completely confidential. You can call us 7 days a week on 01273 696962 or message us on our Contact page. We look forward to helping.