Under the 2010 Equality act, discrimination against employees is illegal. If an employee was to make a discrimination claim against your business in an employment tribunal, you may have to pay substantial damages as well as the cost and distractions of the case.

Racial and sexual discrimination have long been illegal, these include discrimination on the basis colour, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation and marital status. Most recently, the discrimination law has been extended to cover age discrimination and discrimination against disabled people, towards both customers and employees.

Discrimination of the grounds of religious and philosophical beliefs is also illegal. While there are exceptions to the discrimination law, it is advisable to seek legal advice when you feel you need to discriminate to make sure you are not doing it illegally. For example, discrimination may be necessary to encourage an under represented group to enter the work force or industry.

As an employer, you’re a responsible for making sure that employees are in a safe working environment. If an employee is treated in a discriminatory way by colleagues, customers or other third parties, you may be held accountable in an employment tribunal for not safe guarding an employee from this type of behaviour.

Discrimination can occur at any stage in the work place, from recruitment, to promotion, discipline and redundancies. To avoid any kind of discrimination, the business policies should be objective and focus on work performance and the requirements of the jobs.  In some circumstances, failing to adjust the work place for a disabled employee to work in is a breach of the equality act.

All employees should be given training that helps them identify discrimination, and deal with it following the grievance procedures. Managers and employees should also be made aware that discrimination is unacceptable and could result in disciplinary action. Any allegations of discrimination must be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated.