Names can really hurt me

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Name-calling, bullying and harassment have been at the heart of complaints under the both the sexual orientation and the religion or belief regulations, according to research by Acas.

Both sets of regulations came into force in December 2003. The Acas research looked at cases brought between January 2004 and September 2006. During that time, 470 individuals brought tribunal claims where the main allegation concerned discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, while 461 complained of discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief.

In addition to bullying and harassment, complaints under the religion or belief regulations also included difficulties over working hours, time off or leave to follow religious practices, promotion or retirement and workplace dress codes.

Acas’ Rita Donaghy said: “These 2003 Employment Equality Regulations provide a further step forward in outlawing discrimination in our workplaces. This is the first time since the new regulations came into force that sexual orientation and religion or belief at work has been subject to research. The findings shed new light on these issues both from the employees and employers perspective.”

The research also found:

  • Two-thirds of claims were brought by men
  • Allegations regarding religion or belief overlapped with perceived race discrimination, 66 per cent of religion or belief tribunal claims included allegations of race discrimination as a secondary jurisdiction
  • From the claimant’s perspective, workplace grievance procedures, where they exist, were found to be an unsatisfactory arrangement for resolving their complaints
  • Getting help from an adviser or representative was perceived as especially important in these cases. Where parties were not represented, they lacked confidence in dealing with the opposing party and handling their claim. Lack of money was a significant barrier frustrating claimants’ attempts to fund advice representation.

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