What to do if You’re Being Discriminated Against at Work

When it comes to earning a wage to put food on the table, many people are willing to put up with behaviour they normally wouldn’t. With the cost of living increasing more and more and the minimum wage consistently being below the accepted living wage, a lot of people struggle to make their payslip last the month never mind putting some away for a rainy day. This means that a lot of workers are willing to put up with bullying and discrimination at work in fear that speaking out might lead to them losing their job.

It is important that every worker knows their rights and the laws surrounding wage labour. You do not belong to someone because they pay you a wage to do a job. Below is a list of some of the routes to take if you believe you are being discriminated against

Be Firm

Legally employers have a duty of care to their employees. If you make it clear that someone’s behaviour (either colleague or manager) is making you uncomfortable or angry, firstly, they may not realise how their behaviour is affecting you and could stop when asked. Secondly, it is the legal obligation of your employer to deal with bullying issues. When it comes to any type of harassment there is a list of “Protected Characteristics” that are legally guarded. These are –

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender Reassignment
  • Pregnancy and Maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or Belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation

Don’t Suffer in Silence

If a colleague is harassing you tell a senior member of staff, every workplace should have a policy on harassment and the issue should be resolved. If it is a manager or your employer that is bullying you discuss it with your colleagues. Find out if they are being mistreated as well. It is infinitely more difficult for an employer to get away with treating their employees poorly if they are a united front that can threaten legal action.

REMEMBER – You do not need to be the one being mistreated for you to raise the issue or raise a formal grievance. If you see a colleague being discriminated against, support them and report the bully. Most workplaces have a grievance procedure but if yours doesn’t you can still raise one. Submit a grievance letter to your line manager or HR and keep a copy for yourself. Always include what the grievance is, any evidence you might have and what you would like done about it.

If unsure, citizens advice is a good resource for helping you with the process.

Join a Union!

Too many people these days don’t know their rights when it comes to joining a union. It is illegal for your employer to fire you or treat you unfavourably over union membership. It is also illegal for an employer to refuse to employ you for being a member of a union (Although some still try and get away with this through blacklists. A topic for an entirely different article.) Not only this but under section 145A of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Consolidation Act 1992 it is illegal for an employer to offer a worker an inducement not to join a union or not take part in union activities. Being a part of a union is the best way to ensure you are treated with respect at work. If you face any of the issues raised above, speaking to a union rep, even if you are not a member, is a good place to start in getting things sorted out.

Please don’t ever suffer through poor treatment. I’ve worked in toxic, bullying environments. In places where you would be told from management that you are replaceable and if you joined a union you would be replaced, and I wish I had known these things then. You deserve dignity and respect in your workplace and there is plenty of people out there willing to fight in your corner to ensure that is what you get.

Never underestimate your worth.

Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash