Employment law- Victimisation

To understand what victimisation is, you firstly need to know what rights there are in terms of discrimination law.

Under the Equality Act 2010 (“the Act’), employees have the right not to be discriminated against in relation to the following protected characteristics:

gender reassignment;
marriage and civil partnership;
pregnancy and maternity;
religion or belief;
sex; and
sexual orientation.

So, what is victimisation?

Under the Equality Act, victimisation occurs when someone treats you badly (i.e. detrimentally), because either:

you have done a “protected act”; or
it is believed that you have done, or are about to do a “protected act” (even if this belief is mistaken),

The following are the main protected acts:

-bringing proceedings under the Equality Act 2010, for example, in relation to discrimination;
-giving evidence or information in connection with proceedings under the Act (i.e. assisting a colleague);
-doing any other thing for the purposes of or in connection with the Act;
-making an allegation (whether or not express) that someone has contravened the Act.

“Protected acts” relate to one or more of the protected characteristics listed above.

You do not have to have a particular protected characteristic in order be victimised, although this is often the case. For example, making a complaint about discriminatory behaviour towards a colleague would be a protected act (even if you do not share the same protected characteristic as the colleague)  and treating someone badly because they had made such a complaint would amount to victimisation.

However, there must be a sufficient link between the carrying out of a protected act, and the unfair treatment you receive as a result.

So, broadly speaking, you can make a claim of victimisation if you are subjected to unfair treatment because you have made, or supported, a complaint of discrimination.

What are some examples of victimisation?

Example 1

A non-disabled employee gives evidence on behalf of a disabled colleague during a disability discrimination claim at the Employment Tribunal and is subsequently ostracised by colleagues and managers as a result.
Example 2 

An employee makes a complaint about sexual harassment by a senior manager and is subsequently refused a promotion.
Example 3 

A manager is threatened with disciplinary action because senior managers believe that the manager is going to uphold an employee’s grievance which relates to race discrimination.

We are a leading firm of employment law solicitors, acting for employees and senior executives in the City and throughout the UK. For more information on victimisation and a free consultation, please get in contact on 020 7100 5256 and ask to speak to Philip Landau or any member of the employment team, or email us.


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