Marriage and Civil Partnership Discrimination

Marriage and Civil Partnership Discrimination is unlawful under The Equality Act 2010. We would always advise any person who is subjected to discriminatory behaviour by their employer to take independent legal advice. Of course, we hope they would contact us at Lincs Law Employment Solicitors. However, if you are considering raising your own complaint or representing yourself at the Employment Tribunal, we set out some general guidance.

Who is protected from Marriage and Civil Partnership Discrimination?

In the employment sphere, employees, workers, job applicants, trainees, company directors etc, are protected from Marriage and Civil Partnership Discrimination or harassment by their employer. All aspects of the relationship are covered. For example, an applicant who is discriminated against in the recruitment process would be able to bring a claim against their prospective employer even if they never worked a day for that business.

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against any person in the employment relationship because they are married or in a civil partnership. For the purpose of the Act, this means someone who is legally married or in a civil partnership. The Equality Act 2010 provides those who are married or in a civil partnership as having a protected characteristic.

This type of protection from discrimination does not extend to people who are single, living with a partner as a couple but not married or civil partners, engaged to be married but not actually married, divorced, or a person whose civil partnership has been dissolved.

How do you know if you have suffered Marriage or Civil Partnership Discrimination?

The Equality Act 2010 sets out various ways in which an employer’s treatment of a person because of their marriage or Civil Partnership status is unlawful. Briefly, it is likely you have suffered Marriage or Civil Partnership Discrimination if any of the following have occurred: –

  • Direct Discrimination

    This is where you have been treated less favourably because of your marriage or civil partnership status than another person who is not married or in a civil partnership would. For example, if an employer refused to recruit a married woman because they believed married women should stay at home and not work.

  • Indirect Discrimination

    This is where an employer has a policy, procedure or similar that appears to apply to everyone but has a detrimental impact upon people who are married or in a civil partnership.

  • Harassment

    This is where a person suffers unwanted conduct which causes a distressing, humiliating or offensive environment for them. For example, criticism that an employee who is married is working.

  • Victimisation

    This is where an employee raises a complaint themselves or supports another doing so and suffers a “detriment” as a consequence. A detriment could be a reduction in hours, a refusal to give a pay rise, a lost promotion opportunity, indeed anything which has a negative impact upon that person’s work or employment.

If you believe you are suffering Marriage or Civil Partnership Discrimination, what action should you take?

The Employment Tribunal will expect you to raise your concerns with your employer. This will usually be done through your employer’s grievance procedure. Please see the information available on this website about how to raise a grievance at lincslaw.co.uk/blog/need-to-send-a-grievance-or-complaint-to-your-employer. Any evidence you can gather to assist in your grievance will be extremely helpful. If the matter can be resolved at that stage, then all to the good.

If your employer continues to discriminate against you because of your marriage or civil partnership or the harassment has not been properly dealt with, you may have to consider submitting a claim to the Employment Tribunal. In order to do so, you will first need to begin a process called ACAS Early Conciliation. This is a compulsory procedure where an ACAS conciliator acts as a go between to try and resolve the dispute.

What are the Time Limits for Marriage or Civil Partnership Discrimination or Harassment Claims?

You will need to begin the ACAS Early Conciliation process within three months less one day from the last act or incident of discrimination or harassment. The time limit for submitting your Employment Tribunal claim will depend upon the dates of your ACAS Early Conciliation. However, it is important that you begin the ACAS Early Conciliation process within the three-month deadline as to fail to do so may render your claim out of time.

Lincs Law Employment Solicitors can help you

If you believe you are suffering marriage or civil partnership discrimination or harassment at work, please ring for a free, no obligation telephone consultation on 01522 440512 or use the contact information on this website.

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