Discrimination at work — part three: protected characteristics and the perception-reality gap

Discrimination claims accounted for 15.3 per cent of all the employment claims brought in 2011–12, and a great many more were settled before reaching the tribunal door. From an employee’s perspective, discrimination claims are a relatively attractive proposition as there is no service requirement, and compensation is unlimited. Whether meritorious or not, defending these claims eats into limited resources. No amount of best practice will totally eradicate discriminatory conduct or allegations of it, but it is possible to minimise exposure in this area. The starting point is to understand the level of employee knowledge in terms of what is lawful and what it is unlawful, what is acceptable conduct and what is not.

This report examines employees’ knowledge or perception of which characteristics are protected by anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. Our separate report on workplace banter looks at attitudes of employees towards office banter and the extent to which they understand the difference between lawful and unlawful conduct that can lead to harassment claims…

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