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Sexual Discrimination

Sex Discrimination Sexual Discrimination

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Sex Discrimination Sexual Discrimination became unlawful when the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 came into force. The concept of Sex Discrimination has been in existence since 1975 which is 30 years. It was subsequently approved and amended by the European Directives in 2000.

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As always when you are looking at law, you should always look behind at the policy, why was the law created? The purpose in the Sex Discrimination Act was to protect women for unlawful discrimination in the workplace.

The Sex Discrimination Sexual Discrimination Act itself applies equally to both men and women and there have been occasional cases where men have successfully proved Sex Discrimination against women, but the vast majority of cases relate to women being discriminated against by men.

The Sex Discrimination Sexual Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against men or women or against a married person of either sex on the grounds of their sex or marital status.

Discrimination can take three forms. Firstly, Direct Discrimination. This sort of situation arises when a person of one sex is treated less favourably than a person of another sex and the reason for the less favourable treatment is the person’s sex.

I will give you an example of what I mean by this :


It was the perception in the 60’s and early 70’s that there were believed to be in industry, men’s jobs and women jobs. This was old fashioned and it failed to take account of the ability of both sexes and was discriminatory. The Act sought to prevent this happening. There were many examples of cases where employers would say “women can’t do this particular job because it is too strenuous or too difficult etc”.

If an applicant for a job who happens to be a woman applies for it and is refused on that basis, this would be Sex Discrimination/Sexual Discrimination. The person who discriminates does not have to intend to discriminate, they can still discriminate without the intention. What this means is that because a certain person may have a hidden prejudice or there may be a hidden prejudice against one sex to do a particular job or to a job in a particular way, then if someone makes such a stereotypical assumption, that in itself can amount to less favourable treatment on the grounds of sex.

In one case, the owner of a bookshop forbade women from wearing trousers and obliged them to wear overalls. The male employees were forbidden to wear t-shirts. A female employee liked to wear trousers and refused to wear the uniform skirt. In this particular case, it was deemed not to be Sex Discrimination. The reason for this was because rules related to both sexes.

I do however think that the law is changing in this regard. If for example say women bus drivers or HGV drivers were restricted by their employer and forced to wear a uniform skirt, then that itself could amount to direct discrimination because the uniform itself is impractical to one particular sex.
Getting in and out of an HGV Cab wearing a skirt is liable to be embarrassing for a woman.

Sex Discrimination Sexual Discrimination - The essential element on all these issues is that the treatment is less favourable when viewed objectively i.e. viewed by a Court to amount to less favourable treatment.
In order to establish Direct Discrimination, the Tribunal has to compare the treatment of the person claiming discrimination against the treatment of other members of staff and provided they are capable of being compared, then using the comparator system, the Tribunal can determine whether that person has been treated less favourable and then infer if they are being treated less favourable the reason for it. If there is no obvious comparator, the Tribunal have to create a hypothetical one.

Sometimes you get a situation where the employers recognise that they have treated someone differently and less favourably and they seek to justify that reason. This is a little bit more complex because the issue of being treated differently is admitted but the party says they are justified in that separate treatment.

If you are facing redundancy visit our redundancy pages.

If you are being unfairly Dismissed, visit our Unfair Dismissal pages.

If you are being disrciminated against due to race, visit our Race Discrimination pages.

If you are considering going to an Employment Tribunal then see our Employment Tribunal pages

If you are facing Constructive Dismissal, visit our Constructive Dismissal pages.

If you are losing your job due to Misconduct or Gross Misconduct, visit our Misconduct or Gross Misconduct pages.

If you are losing your job due to Capability then visit our Capability pages

If you think you may be suffering from disability discrimination then visit our disability discrimination pages

If you are being asked to sign a Compromise Agreement, then visit our Compromise Agreement pages.

If you are being put on Garden Leave then please see our Garden Leave pages

I will give you an example of where this can occur.


Sheila claims Sex Discrimination. She claims that she has been denied promotion because of her sex. The employer says “Yes Sheila has been denied promotion but it is not because of her sex, it is because of her poor performance in her current role and in evidence to justify this, they produce documents to show that she has been previously warned about her poor performance. If the Tribunal looked at this and considering the evidence accepted that the employer took the action not to promote Sheila because of her poor performance as opposed to the fact she was a women then her claim would fail.


The site author/owner has endeavoured to give clear information to benefit the reader. The information is no substitute for obtaining specific advice about any claim you may have from a person qualified to give it. The examples, and circumstances described etc bear no relation to any actual case and any resemblance to real circumstances is purely accidental and unintentional. The site author/owner accepts no liability for any mistake, error or inconsistency in the text and the reader should ALWAYS OBTAIN specific advice about his/her own situation. In order to assist the reader, you can give your details so that a qualified advisor can call you free of charge and assist you further via CLAIM EVALUATOR