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Discrimination

We have an expert team of discrimination lawyers who represent individuals who have been discriminated against at work and in many other areas of life. Our lawyers are widely recognised as being leaders in their field. If you have been treated unfairly because of your age, race, sex, maternity, sexual orientation, religion or disability, we can help. Contact us today.

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what the directories say

‘Leigh Day are without doubt the most important employee firm. The impact the team has had upon modern employment litigation is unrivalled.’"

Legal 500 2021

Discrimination law can be complex but our lawyers offer a sympathetic approach as well as a sensitive understanding of our clients' needs, explaining the issues as simply as possible and always focusing on the resolutions the client is seeking.

We give clients an honest view about the prospects of success at an early stage and guide and support them through the options. We are involved in many ground-breaking and pioneering cases.

We are not afraid to take on some of the biggest and most powerful institutions in the country in high-profile disputes involving claims for millions of pounds.

Whatever the nature of the claim, our clients receive the same expert service tailored to their needs. As well as our individual clients, we also act for trade unions, charities and non-governmental organisations who represent groups of people disadvantaged by a particular policy.

Our services

Age discrimination

Our specialist team of discrimination claims lawyers represent clients who have suffered age discrimination in all aspects of their lives.

It is unlawful for an employer or service provider, such as a shop, healthcare provider or transport company, to discriminate against someone because of their age.

Our team of expert employment lawyers advise clients who have been discriminated against. We have successfully brought and settled claims relating to age discrimination in the workplace. Common examples of age discrimination at work include:
 
  • Stereotyping people of a certain age
  • Making someone redundant because of his or her age
  • Harassing or victimising someone at work because of his or her age
  • Compulsorily retiring someone because of their age, unless it can be objectively justified
  • Requiring a minimum number of years’ experience for a job, where this is not necessary

Employers should avoid discrimination on the grounds of age in relation to recruitment, selection for promotion and training, and in pay settlements. Our employment lawyers have represented clients who have been replaced by younger colleagues, acted for clients who were paid less because they were younger than their colleagues, and successfully represented Miriam O’Reilly in an age discrimination claim against the BBC.

It is also unlawful for service providers such as healthcare providers, social services and retailers including banks, travel agents and travel companies to discriminate on the grounds of age.  Our specialist human rights lawyers have successfully represented people who have suffered discrimination at the hands of many such organisations and have secured compensation and apologies for such discrimination.

Sex discrimination

The employment and discrimination team has acted for many women who have been treated less favourably because of their sex. Most commonly, this includes sex discrimination in relation to recruitment, selection for promotion and training and in pay, including cases where women have received lower bonuses than men doing similar work but performing less well than our clients.  Men are also entitled to bring claims of sex discrimination where they are subjected to discrimination as compared to women. 

Sex discrimination can also occur where an individual is disadvantaged because of an unjustified provision, criterion or practice, which applies to men and women, but particularly disadvantages one sex in comparison to the other. For example, requiring full-time or long hours will disadvantage more women than men, as it is still mainly women who take primary responsibility for childcare so cannot work full-time or long hours. 

We act for many women who want to negotiate part-time and flexible hours and obtain compensation for them if their requests are unreasonably refused.

It is also unlawful for service providers such as healthcare providers, social services and retailers including banks, travel agents and travel companies to discriminate on the grounds of sex.  Our human rights lawyers have successfully represented people who have suffered discrimination at the hands of many such organisations and have secured compensation and apologies for such discrimination.

Disability discrimination

If you have been discriminated against because of a disability we are can advise and support you.

We have a specialist team of employment lawyers who can represent you if you have suffered disability discrimination at work and our expert human rights solicitors have unrivalled experience in bringing disability discrimination claims in many other areas of life.

It is unlawful for an employer or service provider, such as a shop, transport company or healthcare provider, to treat someone less favourably because of a disability or because of something arising as a result of his or her disability. Employers and service providers also have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to make sure that a disabled person has the same access to everything that is involved in doing and keeping a job or using a service as a non-disabled person.

If you are are seeking compensation from your employer, or from a service provider who has discriminated against you, and want to bring about an end to unfair practices we can help you.

Our discrimination lawyers work closely with colleagues in our personal injury and clinical negligence teams who represent people who have suffered life-changing injuries which mean they have to cope with a disability.  Often they face discrimination when they try to return to work, and our employment lawyers can advise such clients of their rights, and their employer’s obligations in such circumstances.

Our human rights lawyers can act for for you if you are seeking compensation and apologies from bodies who have discriminated against you, including hospitals, other health services, banks, local authorities, education authorities, transport providers, housing associations, prisons and other public and private organisations.

We have successfully secured significant financial compensation and apologies for numerous clients, and have brought an end to unfair practices.

We also challenge the policies of public authorities which discriminate against particular groups of individuals with a view to forcing the public authority to change its policy. We bring these cases not only for individuals but also act for charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who represent groups of people disadvantaged by a particular policy. Examples of our work include:
  • Obtaining financial compensation from a bank for failing to make reasonable adjustments to allow a blind service user to access the bank’s services, and a promise to change their practices
  • Securing financial compensation and an apology from a holiday company for a paraplegic  whose holiday turned into a degrading and humiliating experience as the advice given that the holiday was suitable for someone with his disability  was incorrect
  • Winning financial compensation from the Crown Prosecution Service after they decided to abandon a trial on the basis that our client, who suffered Asperger’s Syndrome, was not a competent witness, leaving her with no access to justice for the assaults she had suffered
  • Obtaining the provision of appropriate aids and compensation for a disabled prisoner from the Prison Service following their failure to adequately assess or address his disability needs

Gender identity discrimination

We represent clients who have been discriminated against because of their gender identity including by employers, NHS Trusts, local authorities, schools, and service providers such as banks. 
 
Unlawful discrimination includes less favourable treatment of someone who is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) of ‘gender reassignment’. This includes less favourable treatment by an employer or by a service provider, such as a shop, hotel or healthcare provider.  
 
‘Gender reassignment’ is defined in the Equality Act 2010 as ‘reassigning a person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.’  There is no requirement for a person to be under any medical supervision to be covered by the protected characteristic of gender reassignment and a person who has transitioned, is transitioning or is proposing to transition socially, without undergoing any physiological changes, would still be covered.
 
As well as prohibiting less favourable treatment because of a person’s gender identity, the Equality Act 2010 also prohibits less favourable treatment of a person because they associate with a trans person.  For example, it would be unlawful for an employer to dismiss an employee because that employee’s partner is a trans person.  The Equality Act 2010 also prohibits less favourable treatment of a person because they are perceived to be a trans person. It is also unlawful for an employer to unreasonably treat someone less favourably because they are absent from work because of gender reassignment and they would have been treated more favourably if they had been absent because of sickness or injury or for some other reason.
 
We also act for clients who have been subjected to gender identity-related harassment by an employer or service provider.  Harassment is any unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.  
 
We also act for clients who have been subjected to a detriment because they have complained to an employer or service provider about an act of gender identity discrimination or harassment.  This type of claim is known as victimisation. 
 
Examples of gender identity discrimination cases where we have been instructed include the following:
  • Challenging the company responsible for running a prison, HMP Dovegate, for their failure to provide a trans prisoner with access to appropriate healthcare services.
  • Challenging the policies and procedures of a financial services provider that discriminated against trans people.
  • Acting for a claimant who was subjected to gender identity-related harassment by an NHS Trust.
  • Challenging an employer’s decision to refuse to allow a trans employee to use their preferred changing facilities.   
  • Representing a claimant in Employment Tribunal proceedings after they were subjected to harassment and direct discrimination by their employer because of their gender identity;
  • Challenging a refusal by an NHS Trust to provide a young trans person with hormone blockers;
  • Challenging a refusal by an NHS Trust to preserve a trans person’s gametes prior to prescribing and administering hormone treatment, 

Maternity and pregnancy discrimination

It is against the law for an employer to treat a woman unfavourably because she is pregnant, has pregnancy-related sickness, or is on maternity leave, or has taken maternity leave.

Common examples of discrimination include:
  • Not offering the same training or promotion opportunities to a woman because she is pregnant or on maternity leave
  • Treating a woman unfavourably because she has pregnancy-related sickness
  • Dismissing a woman on maternity leave shortly before she is due to return to work (or after she returns) and keeping the person covering her maternity leave on instead
  • Making a woman redundant because she is pregnant, or for reasons related to her maternity leave
The question you should ask is ‘would I have received the same unfavourable treatment if I had not been pregnant or on maternity leave?’ If not, you are likely to have experienced discrimination.

The law protects job applicants and all workers, no matter how long they have worked – so a worker is protected from day one in the job. The employment tribunal deadline for bringing a claim is three months less one day from the discrimination so it is best to contact a lawyer within that time if possible.

Our specialist employment lawyers are experts in maternity, pregnancy, flexible and part-time working law. Our lawyers all have substantial experience in advising people about potential claims. We regularly advise employees about issues which arise during pregnancy and maternity leave such as:
  • Sickness
  • Pay and conditions
  • Redundancy
  • Promotion and training
  • Return to work, including flexible and part-time working
We listen carefully to what our clients want and we offer advice which is carefully tailored to each client’s situation. This ranges from giving behind the scenes support to a woman who wants to stay in her job and negotiate a solution with her employer, through helping write a grievance, to bringing a claim where the employee has reached the end of the road with the employment relationship. We often settle employment law claims and we aim to secure substantial compensation, but where a client wants to litigate we fight hard and are not afraid of the opposition.

Racial discrimination

We advise clients who have suffered race discrimination both at work and in many other areas of life.

Our team of expert employment lawyers represents workers who have been discriminated against because of their race. We have successfully brought and settled claims relating to race discrimination in the workplace. Examples of race discrimination at work include:
  • a company favouring an employee of a particular nationality
  • a worker being subjected to harassment because of their race
  • an individual being forced to work in an environment where racist jokes are made
Employers should also avoid discrimination because of race in relation to recruitment, selection for promotion and training, and in pay discussions.

It is also unlawful for service providers such as healthcare providers, social services and retailers including banks, travel agents and travel companies to discriminate on the grounds of race.  Our human rights lawyers have successfully represented people who have suffered discrimination at the hands of many such organisations and have secured compensation and apologies for such discrimination.

Religion and belief discrimination

Our specialist team of discrimination claims lawyers represent clients who have been discriminated against because of religion or belief.

This includes not only religions that are extensively recognised in the UK but also the wider concept of beliefs, such as philosophical beliefs.

We have a team of expert employment lawyers who represent workers who have been discriminated against because of religion or belief. We have successfully brought and settled claims relating to religion and belief discrimination in the workplace. Examples of religion and belief discrimination at work include:
  •  a company favouring an employee of a particular religion
  •  a worker not being allowed to pray without justification
  •  an individual being forced to work in an environment where jokes about a belief are made
It is also illegal for service providers such as healthcare providers, social services and retailers including banks, travel agents and travel companies to discriminate on the grounds of religion or belief. 
Our expert human rights lawyers have successfully represented people who have suffered discrimination at the hands of many such organisations and have secured compensation and apologies for our clients.
A recent example includes successfully resolving a dispute between the family of a young Muslim girl and the governing body of her school relating to her access to prayer facilities on the school premises.  The matter was referred to them by the Islamic Human Rights Commission.

Sexual orientation discrimination

We have a team of discrimination experts who regularly advise clients who have been discriminated against because of sexual orientation.

The specialist employment team has acted for many gay men and women who have been discriminated against because of sexual orientation. This includes sexual orientation discrimination in relation to recruitment, selection for promotion and training and in pay.

Examples of this include:
  • Stereotyping,  i.e. making assumptions about how gay people behave, for example not employing a gay man at a child care centre because of an assumption that the safety of children will be compromised
  • Appointing or promoting a person because of their sexual orientation  whether it be because of a conscious or unconscious preference or prejudice.
We also advise clients who have been harassed because of sexual orientation. This could include working in an environment where homophobic jokes are made or being subjected to name calling relating to sexual orientation.

It is also unlawful for service providers such as healthcare providers, social services and retailers including banks, travel agents and travel companies to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation. 
Our human rights lawyers have successfully represented people who have suffered discrimination at the hands of many such organisations and have secured compensation and apologies for such discrimination.

The work we do

Client Story
Mr Plummer
Disability

Discrimination claim - James' story

Client Story
Miriam Paul Lewis Landscape
Age discrimination

Discrimination - Miriam O'Reilly's story

Miriam O'Reilly succeeded with her claim for age discrimination against the BBC