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Discrimination: What is it and how to take action?

What is discrimination?

Types of discrimination

Ways to take action

Taking a legal case

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is when a group or individual is treated differently and/or unequally because of who they are, or who someone thinks they are.

Discrimination in the workplace is against the law in Jersey. The Discrimination (Jersey) Law 2013 makes it illegal to treat someone less favourably at work because they have, or are assumed to have, a protected characteristic. There are seven protected characteristics in Jersey:

  • Race including skin colour, nationality, national origin, ethnicity
  • Sex including men, women and people with Intersex status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender reassignment
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Age
  • Disability

Employees and any other person working in a workplace, e.g. contractors, volunteers, suppliers, etc are protected by the law. The law also makes it illegal to discriminate in the provision of goods and services to customers, clients, service users etc. This includes admission to schools, membership of clubs with more than 25 members, access to public premises, and disposal or management of premises.

Schools, colleges and places of education are workplaces. Young people are therefore protected by the law.

Types of discrimination

Discrimination may take the form of four basic types:

1. Direct discrimination – when someone is treated unfairly because of a protected characteristic. For example, someone is not offered a promotion because they are a woman and the job goes to a less qualified man.

2. Indirect discrimination – when there are policies, procedures, rules or arrangements that apply to a group of people, but in practice are less fair to people with a certain protected characteristic. For example, a job advert for a salesperson says applicants must have spent 10 years working in retail. By doing this the business could be discriminating indirectly based on age. This is because the advert excludes young people who may still have the skills and qualifications needed.

Disability has a special class of indirect discrimination that applies when a workplace fails to make reasonable adjustments to include a person with a disability.

3. Harassment – unwanted behaviour which you find offensive or which makes you feel intimidated or humiliated. It can happen on its own or alongside other forms of discrimination.

Unwanted behaviour could be:

  • spoken or written words or abuse
  • offensive emails, posts or comments on social networking sites
  • images and graffiti
  • physical gestures
  • facial expressions
  • jokes

A person does not need to have previously objected to something for it to be unwanted.

4. Victimisation – when someone is treated unfairly because they complained about discrimination or helped someone who had been discriminated against.

Ways to take action

Where the discrimination is happening to you in your workplace/place of education:

  1. Tell someone what is happening. This could be a teacher or a manager at work. They can help to make changes or support you. You can also email us. Liberate does not provide legal advice, but we can help you to work through what has happened to you and support you to make decisions about what to do next.
  2. Follow policies or guidelines. Your school or employer have a duty to protect you from discrimination. Find out about their discrimination policy so that you can report what has happened.
  3. Keep a record. Messages, videos or a diary of what is happening can help when recounting events and/or be used as evidence.
  4. Keep telling. You may have to speak out more than once about what is happening. It is okay to tell someone else if you do not feel you are being taken seriously.
  5. Do not leave it too long. If you want to bring a legal case against the discriminator leaving it too long before you take action could mean the case is out of time.
  6. Tell the police. If you feel threatened or a crime has been committed please go to our hate crime advice page for more information.
  7. Report it. Whether you decide to take action over the discrimination that has happened to you or not, you can tell us anonymously about it through our reporting tool. The data is collected and used by Liberate to build a picture of where incidents are happening, what sort of incidents are happening and where more work needs to be done to reduce the number of incidents.

The Jersey Employment and Discrimination Tribunal is a judicial body established to resolve employment and discrimination related disputes. They hear cases of discrimination.

This is a free service and as a complainant you can get free support and advice from the Jersey Advisory and Conciliation Service (JACS) and/or Citizens Advice Jersey to take a case to the Tribunal.

The Tribunal exists to provide justice for individuals with protected characteristics who have experienced unfair treatment in the workplace. Where discrimination is taking place justice should be done to stop that person or organisation from discriminating now and deter them from doing so in future.

However, the Tribunal process is not going to be something everyone will wish to undertake. Before taking a case to the Tribunal, consider:

  1. Exploring alternative solutions. JACS and Citizens Advice Jersey can support you to seek a resolution that does not involve the Tribunal in the first instance. If this fails you can still take a Tribunal case.
  2. When the last act of discrimination took place. The Tribunal will not consider a complaint unless it is presented to the Tribunal within 8 weeks from the date of the act, or the last act to which the complaint relates. In exceptional circumstances where the Tribunal is satisfied that it was not reasonably practicable for the complaint to be presented within 8 weeks, they may grant an extension.
  3. Your health and other commitments. Taking a case to Tribunal is a legal process in which you will be asked to recount what has happened to you publicly. The process of bringing the case will take time and effort on your part. Consider whether you want to take on this additional burden.
  4. Your privacy. Tribunal judgements are published on the Tribunal’s website. Unless there are exceptional circumstances for privacy, any proceedings you take would be made public.
  5. What you gain from the process. If you think that you will receive the sort of six figure sums that make headlines in the UK, you will be disappointed. Jersey compensation awards where discrimination is found to have happened are capped at a maximum of £10,000. The desire to call-out discriminatory behaviour publicly is therefore more likely to be a deciding factor.
  6. Whether you wish to stay where you are. If you want to continue to work for your employer or receive a service from a provider, you may want to think carefully about taking a legal case against them. Doing so will inevitably change your relationship with the organisation and people in the organisation. A case will publicly name and shame the organisation and cost them in time and legal fees. It is unlikely that your relationship will improve as a result of taking legal action.

If you would like to continue with taking a discrimination case to Tribunal details of organisations that can help are below.

The Jersey Advisory and Conciliation Service (JACS) provide free advice and conciliation on employment related disputes:

Citizens Advice Jersey provide free advice in many areas including discrimination in the provision of goods and services: