A survey, conducted by YouGov and commissioned by Stonewall, into the experiences of 3,213 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees in the workplace has shown that almost one in five LGBT staff have experienced negative comments or conduct from colleagues due to their sexual orientation or their transgender status.
The survey also reported that the problem does not only affect employees, but also to prospective employees, with one in five LGBT candidates being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity whilst looking for work.
It concluded that evidence also suggests that the issues are more prominent where the employee or prospective employee is from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background. It is understood that in the last year, 12% of black, Asian or minority ethnic LGBT employees have been dismissed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, compared with 4% of white LGBT employees.
The Equality Act 2010 prohibits employers and work colleagues from discriminating against an employee on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender reassignment. The act also protects prospective employees and prevents employers from discriminating against a person by not offering employment because of that person’s protected characteristic.
Section 12(1) of the Equality Act defines sexual orientation as including ‘a person's sexual orientation towards: (a) persons of the same sex; (b) persons of the opposite sex; or (c) persons of either sex.’
Section 7(1) of the Equality Act defines gender reassignment, stating that ‘a person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if the person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person's sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.’
The wording of the Equality Act only protects transgender people where they are proposing to undergo, are undergoing, or have undergone the gender reassignment process, however the concept of discrimination by perception means that if you suffer less favourable treatment as a result of someone perceiving you to be transgender in accordance with the definition, this would be unlawful.
If you feel that as a result of your LGBT status you have suffered a detriment either in the workplace or whilst looking for work you may be able to bring a claim for discrimination. Please contact our specialist discrimination team for further advice on 0175 321 6399.
By Charlotte Brain, discrimination law team