Gillian Switalski’s £13.4m sexual discrimination claim against F&C Asset Management has put sexual discrimination in the headlines. F&C’s former general counsel claims she was overlooked for management positions in favour of her male counterparts. F&C deny such claims and is trying to have the case heard by the Court of Appeal.

Switalski’s claim is likely to be the first in a string of disputes. Earlier this month Christian registrar Lillian Ladele took Islington Council to an employment tribunal for refusing to exempt her from registering same-sex civil partnerships.

A raft of new employment legislation has broadened the scope for bringing discrimination claims. In this Employment Special Report Beachcroft’s Rachel Dinely discusses what recent changes to the Sex Discrimination Act (1975) will mean for how employers protect staff from harassment, while Alexandra Davidson of Berwin Leighton Paisner examines how the Act will impact the law governing maternity leave.