The number of people claiming to have suffered homophobic discrimination of work has almost doubled in the last year, according to The Times.
In 2016 to 2017 there were 203 claims to employment tribunals relating to sexual orientation – a number which has risen to 377 in the last year.
Experts have put the rise down to changing social attitudes, as well as the Supreme Court abolishing employment tribunal fees in July 2017.
Caroline Field, a partner at Fox Solicitors, told the newspaper: “A generation ago employees would have been expected to treat homophobic comments as banter.
“Any complaints would have been swept under the carpet. But now homophobic banter is not viewed by wider society as acceptable and therefore victims are more likely to speak up for themselves.”
The Right Not to Face Discrimination in the Workplace
Image Credit: Rawpixel / Unsplash
Not facing discrimination in the workplace is part of our human rights, and is explicitly protected by The Equality Act 2010.
The text says you must not be discriminated against because of your sexual orientation, so whether you identify as part of the LGBT spectrum or someone perceives you to be, these protections still apply.
Homophobic discrimination also covers a wide range of things; direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation. And this applies to all employers, service providers, businesses and public bodies – it’s not just about publically funded bodies.
Homophobic banter is not viewed by wider society as acceptable and therefore victims are more likely to speak up for themselves.
Caroline Field, Fox Solicitors
In other words, employers have a responsibility to ensure the workplace is free from homophobic discrimination, as well as on the grounds of gender, race, religion and disability.
If employers fail to do so, then an employee can lodge a case with an employment tribunal.
What Is An Employment Tribunal?
Employment tribunals are open to all forms of worker. Image Credit: Max Larochelle / Unsplash
Employment tribunals basically make decisions about a range of different employment disputes. For example,£1,200 you can take your boss to court over unfair dismissal, redundancy or discrimination, just to name a few.
In 2013 the government introduced a £1200 fee for people bringing employment tribunals in the hope it would reduce the number of weak or malicious claims, however, critics claimed it was an attack on workers’ rights and prevented workers from accessing justice.
Fees stopped people accessing their rights – as we argued.
Rebecca Hilsenrath, Equality and Human Rights Commission
Last summer the Supreme Court ruled the fee to be indirectly discriminatory, as women brought a higher proportion of cases to an employment tribunal.
Access to justice is also a vital part of our human rights, after all if we can’t challenge people for violating our rights, do they really have any value?
Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, also explained the rise to The Times as proof “that fees stopped people accessing their rights – as we argued in the case which held them to be unlawful”.