Gender Inequality in the Workplace

Caragh Bailey
3 min read
gender inequality in the workplace: Advice from Employment Law Friend

Gender Discrimination and Sexual Discrimination are protected separately in Employment Law.

Gender inequality in the workplace is wrong, but sadly happens often. Below are some examples of gender discrimination in the workplace and sexual discrimination in the workplace. However, to learn more about what behaviours constitute the different types of discrimination, read our main page on discrimination. If you'd like to jump ahead, read our article Discrimination at work: What should you do?

Sexual discrimination in the workplace

You are protected from discrimination in the workplace if you are a man or woman.

For example:
  • Your workplace insists that everyone works regular hours. This may be discrimination against women, who may need a flexible working arrangement for childcare or breastfeeding.
  • A job that you have applied for lists 'good bed-side manner' as a requirement. You did not get the job. The interviewer mentioned that she does not feel men are as 'caring' or 'nurturing' in this context. This may be discrimination against men.
  • There is an unpleasant atmosphere at work, you feel objectified by members of the opposite sex. They have said specific things that you find to be inappropriate, making you feel uncomfortable, distressed or intimidated. This is sexual harassment.
  • You find out that your male colleagues earn more than you. (Click to read about equal pay).

Occupational Requirement: There are limited situations which can require that a job-holder is a man or a woman.
For example, it is reasonable to hire specifically men or women in the following situations:
  • Changing or fitting rooms, some medical roles and other situations regarding privacy or decency.
  • A driving school might hire more female instructors if they have more clients who choose not to be alone with a man for religious reasons.
  • Casting a person of a specific gender in casting for plays or films.
  • Welfare and education services, such as councillors, workers in sheltered housing.

Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

You are protected from gender inequality in the workplace based on your gender reassignment, whether you are planning your reassignment, are transitioning, or have transitioned.
For example:
  • You are not invited to networking opportunities because you are a transgender person (direct discrimination).
  • You are subjected to behaviour which makes you feel uncomfortable, distressed or intimidated, because your colleagues know that your partner is a transgender person (harassment & discrimination by association).
  • You are refused time off of work to go through gender reassignment, (including counselling, surgery and recovery). You do not need to prove that you were treated worse than someone else, just that you would have been allowed to take the time off if you were unwell.

Frequently Asked Questions
If you identify as non-binary and are not transitioning you will need to seek specific advice from your trade union, citizens advice, or ACAS.

Are you facing gender inequality in the workplace?
Sadly sexual discrimination and gender discrimination are all too common. Whether your employer's bias is conscious or not, you can get in contact with us and see how we can help.

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This content is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of our company. For employment law advice please get in contact and speak to your employment law solicitors.
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Please be advised that we are a UK company and our advice applies to employment law in England and Wales, only.
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