There's been a startling rise in the number of employment tribunal cases brought forward, based on sexual orientation.

Since 2015 there has been a 165% rise in the number of sexual orientation discrimination cases brought against employers, according to new data from compliance training specialist DeltaNet International and the Ministry of Justice.

The study analysed over 120,000 discrimination cases that went to employment tribunals and included cases of sexual orientation, disability, race, age, gender and pregnancy-related complaints.

Almost 500 cases in the last year

Sexual orientation claims have increased 165% since 2015/16 to almost 500 cases in 2019/20.

The statistics show that discrimination has increased across 7 categories, with only discrimination on the basis of age declining in number of cases since 2015. The following points show the percentage increase in cases:

  • Sexual orientation (+165%)
  • Disability discrimination (+133%)
  • Religion or belief discrimination (+131%)
  • Race discrimination (+95%)
  • Pregnancy discrimination (+87%)
  • Sex discrimination (+15%)
  • Age discrimination (-81%)
There has been a steady increase in the number of cases which involve discrimination on the basis of sexuality since 2015.

Jayne Harrison is Head of Employment Law at Richard Nelson LLP. Speaking of the study, she said,

“It has become far more accessible for employees to lodge sexual orientation discrimination cases. Tribunal fees were abolished on 26 July 2017 and since then tribunals have seen an increase year on year with claims being lodged as now an unhappy employee can use the tribunal system without it costing them anything. 

“Previously the fees were around £1200 for an unfair dismissal case but much less (£390) for a wages claim/unlawful deduction. This seemed to act as a bar to potential litigants and one of the main reasons why the fees were abolished when they were challenged by the unions.”

Darren Hockley, MD at DeltaNet International, comments,

“As the data reveals, the best method of avoiding employment tribunals is to treat staff with fairness, dignity, and respect – and to follow clearly laid-out procedures.

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“As employers, it’s important we offer training to those we trust in managerial positions on the basic requirements of employment law. Managers should know how to handle sexual orientation discrimination grievances respectfully and transparently and should be regularly updated about the businesses’ statutory and contractual requirements.  

“Without this knowledge, it’s hard for staff members to remain fair and consistent, and this is when many organisations may find themselves in hot water.”

Over the number of cases involving discrimination on the basis of sexuality remains low compared to race, sex, or disability.

Other LGBT+ Discrimination Cases

A gender-fluid employee at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) was awarded £180,000 in compensation earlier this month after employment tribunal case against JLR on the basis of sexual orientation discrimination.

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In a statement, JLR apologised to the employee, Mx Taylor and said they will continue to work on improvement in this area. Mx Taylor had worked for the company for over 20 years and presented as male before identifying as gender-fluid in 2017.

A transgender employee of Amazon is currently in the process of claiming against his employer after claiming he was denied promotion after announcing he was pregnant.

Under the non-discrimination law passed in 2010, a UK employer cannot discriminate against an employee on the basis of a number of protected characteristics including sexual orientation and gender reassignment.

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