Sex discrimination examples
An employer cannot discriminate against you because of your sex. As such, all types of occupational roles are protected from sexual discrimination, including agency workers, full-time workers and trainees.
This protection covers every eventuality, which could occur within one of the following categories:
- Promotions and salary increases/pay rises
- Redundancy or dismissal
- Training and development opportunities
- Benefits and other working arrangements
- Contractual terms
In very limited circumstances, there are some jobs that require the individual to be of a certain sex. This is known as an “occupational requirement”.
An example of this is where members of one sex will be in a state of undress, and might reasonably object to the presence of a member of the opposite sex, such as a bra-fitting service.
Note: there are special regulations in place to protect employees who are pregnant or on maternity leave.
Below are some examples of sexual discrimination at work:
- A member of HR asks a female employee when she is thinking of having children, or when she plans on having her next child. This is sexual discrimination because this question is unlikely to be directed to a male employee. Also, this question is irrelevant and makes it seem as though getting pregnant would affect the employee’s role in some way.
- A male employee puts up a sexist calendar in the office. Other male employees laugh and joke about it, but a female employee feels victimised by this derogatory situation. When she raises it with her employer, people in the office start to ignore her and treat her unfairly.
- An employer agrees flexible working arrangements for three female employees straight away, but when a male employee puts in a flexible working request, the employer refuses it, or fails to agree to it in a timely manner. This would be sexual discrimination because the employer evidently prioritised the female employees’ requests over the male employee’s request.
Sex discrimination and caring responsibilities
It’s also unlawful to discriminate against somebody who has caring responsibilities, for children or for elderly and disabled adults. For example, if you’re a female employee and you ask your employer for later start times, so you can take your children to school, it’s illegal for them to discriminate against you.
This would come under flexible working requests, which include:
- Later start times/early finishes
- Taking time out to attend hospital appointments
- Part-time or reduced working hours
If the child or adult you are caring for is disabled and your employer discriminates against you for requesting flexible working, this could be classified as disability discrimination.