Sexual Orientation and Marriage/Civil Partnership Discrimination in the Workplace

In addition to age, sex, disability, race/ethnicity, etc. the so-called protected characteristics against which it is unlawful to discriminate also include sexual orientation and marriage or civil partnership. This means that employers are not allowed to dismiss, promote/not promote, etc. someone because of their sexuality or marriage/civil partnership. Like in case of other protected characteristics, there are some exceptions in these “categories” as well but employers are allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation only in exceptional situations.

The UK laws that regulate discrimination in the workplace are very clear about what constitutes as unfair treatment because of a person’s sexuality. Under the UK employment equality law, employers are obliged to make no distinction between employees based on their sexual orientation towards:

Likewise, it is illegal to discriminate against a person because of their:

The UK employment law also prohibits discrimination against workers because they are legally married or in a civil partnership. Just like sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership are protected characteristics. Therefore, unfair treatment on the ground of marriage/civil partnership is automatically unlawful. This, however, doesn’t count for other forms of relationships. There are no legal grounds for discrimination complaint because you are:

However, you are protected if you are separated but still legally married/in a civil partnership.

Preventing Sexual Orientation and Marriage/Civil Partnership Discrimination in the Workplace

Employers are legally bound to take steps to prevent sexual orientation and marriage/civil partnership discrimination in the workplace. In addition to ensuring equality in recruitment, training, pay, promotion, conditions of work and dismissal, they are also obliged to take the necessary steps to protect workers for being harassed because of their sexuality or marriage/civil partnership by other employees or/and clients/customers. Likewise, it is extremely important to take any indications of harassment very seriously and react immediately if being reported insulting, intimidating or abusive treatment - not only to avoid legal consequences but also to create a motivating and inspiring work environment.