All employees should be made aware of the standards required of them in not harassing or discriminating against those with protected characteristics such as sex, race, disability, age, religious beliefs, maternity and pregnancy, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership and gender reassignment. Equal opportunities should not only be the subject of a policy but should be reinforced through training.
An employer is vicariously liable for the discriminatory actions of its employee if carried out in the course of employment. If the employer has provided its employees with equal opportunities training then they will be able to defend such a claim.
Discrimination can occur when ‘stereotypical assumptions’ are made about employees with protected characteristics and as a result they are treated less favourably. Often this is done unintentionally, but intention is not generally relevant.
Successful discrimination can result in uncapped compensation against both the employer and individual employees and also awards for injury to feelings. A Tribunal can also make recommendations to alleviate discrimination in the workplace. Employers are required to report any findings of discrimination when tendering for contracts in the public sector.