Sex Discrimination Act 1975 Analysis

Outlaws less favourable treatment because of your sex or because you are married. An individual may exercise unconscious prejudices, due to their upbringing or perceptions, without being aware of the fact and this can amount to discrimination. It is important therefore that employers give training and raise awareness of the implication and effects of such behaviour. Section three of the act prohibits discrimination due to marital status. Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Constabulary V Graham (2002)- Graham was an inspector in the Bedfordshire force, and married a Chief Superintendent in the same force.

In May 1999 Graham was appointed as Area Inspector in the same division that her husband commanded. In June 1999 she was told that her appointment had been rescinded. It was claimed that her appointment was inappropriate given her husband was in the division. The claims of indirect sex discrimination and direct and indirect discrimination on the grounds of marital status were upheld. The Appeals board confirmed that the decision to rescind the job had clearly been on the basis of Graham's marital status.

The act is gender based and applies to both men and women. Under Section 7 of this act we find Sexual Genuine Occupational Qualifications, which allow the employer to make certain exceptions to this, but the employer must be able to prove genuine occupational reasons (Lockton 1996). If the job needs to be held by a member of a particular sex as it involves physical contact with a person in a situation they may normally object to being carried out by a member of the opposite sex; or if the work requires intimate knowledge or handling of a person.

In the case of Times V Hodgson (1981) where a male supervisor, with longer service than a female counterpart, was chosen for redundancy. The reason was that all other female supervisors had left and the employers retain one to deal with the problems of the women workers, to take them to the first aid room and to take urine samples from them when they had worked with toxic substances. The tribunal held that the employer had discriminated against the man, but that GCQ existed. This outlaws less favourable treatment on racial grounds, which means colour, race, nationality or ethnicity.

The meaning of ethnicity or "ethnic origin" needs to be clarified. It has been held that a group has an ethnic origin if it has the certain characteristics of a long shared history and a cultural tradition. Additional relevant characteristics are a common geographical origin or descent from a small number of common ancestors; a common language not necessarily peculiar to the group; a common religion different to that of the neighbouring or surrounding community; or being a minority in an oppressed or dominant group in a large community.

It has been held in the courts that Sikhs are an ethnic group, as are Jews and gypsies, but Rastafarians have been held not to fall into what can be considered as an ethnic group. In the case of Howden V Capital Copiers (Edinburgh) Ltd (1997) Howden suffered from sharp gripping pains, which resulted in him needing to lie down, as well as having a generally adverse effect on his well being. He was admitted to hospital several times and had 3 operations. No diagnosis or cause for the pain was given.

However, the Employment Tribunal held that this could be classified as a disability, because it was clearly impairing his physical well being, and was long-term, substantial and affecting his day to day activities. Section 2 of this acts states that an employer must provide its employees with a safe working environment. Section 2(1) states that " it shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health safety and welfare of all his employees. " This means that employees should feel safe and unthreatened whilst in engaged in their normal contractual duties.

Whilst the provision of welfare facilities does not immediately cause one to think of discrimination and ensuring an employee does not feel threatened the provisions of this act can be interpreted to do so. Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Act 1999 This act recognises an individuals right to live in a gender they feel appropriate to them. The act is supported also by the Gender Recognition Act 2004, which allows people who have taken decisive steps to live fully, and permanently in their acquired gender to apply for legal recognition of that gender.

Less favourable treatment of an employee or prospective employee on the grounds that they have undergone or are about to undergo gender assignment, constitutes sex discrimination. In case of A v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police (2002) A was born a male, but underwent gender reassignment surgery in May 1996. Since that time she has dressed and appeared as a woman. In 1997 she applied to join the West Yorkshire Police force but was told that the Force had decided not to employ transsexuals because they were unable to perform all the necessary duties. In particular they would not be able to carry out searches on individuals.

A brought a claim of discrimination. The Court of appeal upheld A's claim stating that the Force could sensibly have avoided the problem by exempting her from the requirement to carryout searches. Protection from Harassment Act 1997 This act makes harassment of whatever nature a criminal offence. In this act harassment is defined as pursuing a course of conduct that has the harasser knows, or ought to know, amounts to harassment, or conduct that causes fear of violence in another person. Conduct includes speech. The act also allows for the person who has been harassed to seek damages for financial loss and anxiety caused by the harassment.

Employment Act 2002 This act covers women through the periods of antenatal care, care at work during pregnancy and whilst on maternity leave. It ensure that women are protected against dismissal on the grounds of pregnancy, discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy or any other detrimental treatment relating to the pregnancy. In the case of Webb v EMO Air cargo (1994) Webb was employed to cover another employee who was taking maternity leave. He was taken on 6 months before the other employee started her leave, so that she could be trained to carry out duties of the job.

Two weeks after her employment started Webb found out that she was pregnant. EMO dismissed Webb, as she was not going to be available to them at a crucial time, i. e. to cover the whole period of the other employee's maternity leave. Webb appealed to the Employment Tribunal, which supported the employers view. It held that had a, man been recruited to cover, and announced he would be on protracted leave, then EMO would also have dismissed the man. The European Court of justice overruled this finding, ruling that any dismissal relating to pregnancy was sex discrimination, and that it was wrong to make comparisons to the "hypothetical" man.