The regulations governing sexual orientation discrimination are more recent than the race and sex discrimination legislation. Our discrimination solicitors specialise in employment law and can assist you in taking a sexual orientation discrimination compensation claim to the Liverpool Employment Tribunal using the risk free no win no fee scheme. You pay absolutely no legal fees or expenses if your solicitor does not win your case. To speak with an employment solicitor, call us on our helpline or complete the contact form or email our offices. You will receive confidential advice at no cost about your potential sexual orientation discrimination compensation claim.

Sexual Oreintation Regulations

The Employment Equality Sexual Orientation Regulations 2003 protect employees from discrimination, harassment and victimisation based on their sexual orientation. The purpose of the regulations is to help ensure that people of all sexual orientations receive equal employment opportunities. The regulations cover homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals and heterosexuals. It is illegal not only for an employer to discriminate based on a person's actual sexual orientation but also on their "perceived" sexual orientation or their association with individuals of a given sexual orientation. Under the Regulations, it does not matter whether or not the employer was correct in their assumption about the employee's sexual orientation. Numerous aspects of employment are covered by the regulations. It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation with regard to recruitment, employment, terms of employment, pay, promotions, benefits and transfers.


Note that sexual practices, such as sadomasochism, are not related to sexual orientation for purposes of the Employment Equality Sexual Orientation Regulations 2003. Discrimination based on sexual practices is therefore not covered.

Discrimination Categories

Four distinct types of discrimination are made illegal by the Employment Equality Sexual Orientation Regulations 2003: direct, indirect, harassment and victimisation. Direct discrimination occurs when an employee is treated outright less favourably than others because of their sexual orientation. This type of discrimination is blatant and irrefutable. Indirect discrimination disadvantages people of a certain sexual orientation in a more subtle way. It typically involves enacting a policy or requirement that negatively affects more people of one sexual orientation than another. Harassment involves any type of bullying, degrading treatment or hostile work environment. For example, harassment may include derogatory comments, offensive jokes or physical threats. Victimisation is a form of discrimination that involves treating someone unfairly because of their participation in a compensation claim for sexual orientation discrimination.

Exceptions to the Regulations

A genuine occupational requirement related to sexual orientation is an exception to the mandates of the regulations. For instance, an employer may believe that only a heterosexual could properly carry out the duties of a specific job. This exemption from the regulations applies to organisations with an "ethos based on religion or belief". To qualify for the exception, the employer must show that the restriction on sexual orientation was put in place to either "comply with the doctrines of the religion" or "to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion's followers." Exceptions made for genuine occupational requirements are very rare.

Employment Tribunal Claims

An employee who has been the victim of sexual orientation discrimination can instruct a solicitor to bring a claim before the Liverpool Employment Tribunal (ET). The ET has the power to award financial compensation for successful claims. Awards in sexual orientation discrimination compensation claims can be large as there is no limit on the maximum amount of compensation the claimant can be awarded. The ET also has the power to order the employer to reinstate the claimant.


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