Byline: Deb Clarke
New legislation came into force earlier this week which prohibits discrimination on grounds of sexuality and of religion.
The new rules apply to nearly all employers no matter how many employees, and to nearly all employees and workers, including agency workers.
The regulations use the same terms as are found in other anti-discrimination legislation and refer to direct and indirect discrimination,harassment and victimisation.
Let's quickly remind ourselves about those terms. Direct discrimination is where you treat someone less favourably than someone else because of their sex, race etc. Indirect discrimination is where you apply a term or condition which has a disproportionate effect on an individual from one of the groups which you must not discriminate against. For example, stating that candidates should be of a minimum height may indirectly discriminate against women.
Harassment is unwanted conduct on one of the prohibited grounds (sex, race etc.) as it violates the dignity of the individual or creates a hostile environment.
Victimisation is treating someone less favourably because they have exercised their rights under the employment legislation or supported someone to do so.
So, how are these terms going to be applied in the case of sexuality and religious belief?
The sexual orientation regulations prohibit discrimination on grounds of any sexual orientation no matter whether towards the same gender or a different gender or both. They do not cover sexual practices, or issues such as transvestism. …