The first website solely designed to help employees and employers fight discrimination in the workplace has been launched today.
Discriminationonline.com is a website run by Brabners Chaffe, specialists in discrimination law.
It contains useful information for anyone who thinks they are being discriminated against.
It is the first website to offer detailed advice on what to do, who to contact, what laws protect you and how.
The advice is both for employees who think they might have been a target, and employers who want to reduce discrimination in their workplace.
Jonathan I’Anson, an associate at the firm, said: “When employees are subject to poor treatment in the workplace it is often difficult to know what to do about it.
“Individuals are often too angry or upset to consider their options.
“Employees are often not sure how to go about making a formal complaint or, indeed, if all else fails, how to take legal action.
“But if they have been discriminated against in the workplace on the grounds of sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or age, they can bring legal action against their employer.”
The website points out that as the law relating to discrimination grows more complex, it is essential for employees to get advice on their situation.
Employees may be unaware, for example, that they may be barred from bringing a discrimination claim if a grievance has not been set out in writing within a certain time period.
There can also be time limits for employers to bring any legal claims, which is often within three months of the act of discrimination.
l’Anson said: “It is therefore imperative that anyone who thinks they may have been discriminated against seeks guidance, and if necessary, takes full legal advice.”
It has been illegal to discriminate against somebody at work because of their sexual orientation since December 2003. It is a problem which affects employers negatively, as well as employees.
Research from the Department of Health indicates that stress-related sickness absence costs more than £5 billion a year and Amicus suggests that bullying, a major cause of stress, costs the UK economy £1.3 billion a year.
The first worker in Britain to win a case under the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 was Rob Whitfield, a gay office manager for Cleanaway UK, who claimed constructive dismissal on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Whitfield took the disposal company to an employment tribunal, where he outlined the homophobic bullying, taunts and humiliation that he endured, and his manager’s continual references to his sexuality.
In January 2005 the tribunal found that Whitfield had been victimised because of his sexual orientation. He was awarded £35,000 for the sustained abuse he suffered.