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Website URL : http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1258

Acas finds name calling, threats and bullying in discrimination cases for sexual orientation and religion or belief

Tuesday 03 April 2007
National 

Today, 2 April 2007, Acas presented their research results on the impact of the Sexual Orientation Regulations and the Religion or Belief Regulations 2003.

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Since both sets of the regulations came into force, findings show that workplace discrimination allegations regarding sexual orientation were dominated by claims of bullying and harassment including name calling, threats and physical assaults. 

Equally, religion and belief in employment tribunal claims included many instances of bullying or harassment as well. But another key theme were claims stemming from difficulties over working hours, time off or leave to follow religious practices, promotion or retirement and workplace dress codes.

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. This is why today's seminar is so important. The findings shed new light on these issues both from the employees and employers perspective."

"Acas will be looking closely at the findings from this research. Our website and helpline are a great starting point to access our good practice guidance. We already help thousands of employers and employees with workplace issues each year and will continue to develop our services in the important areas of equality."

Highlights of the findings:

  • Between January 2004 and September 2006, 470 individuals brought ET claims where the main allegation concerned discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation (DSO) and 461 brought cases where discrimination on grounds of religion or belief (DRB) was the main claim. Two thirds of claims were brought by men
  • In some instances, allegations regarding religion or belief overlapped with perceived race discrimination. Indeed, 66% of religion or belief ET claims included allegations of race discrimination as a secondary jurisdiction
  • From the ET 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.

Notes to editors

  1. The research carried out by Acas and commissioned by the DTI was presented at a seminar in the Tate Modern
  2. The 2003 Employment Equality Regulations - Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 and the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 - made it unlawful for employers to discriminate against their employees on grounds of sexual orientation and religion or belief (SORB)
  3. In 2005, as part of its wider programme of work around the regulations, the DTI funded Acas to conduct research exploring the impact of the SORB regulations. Summary findings of the research are available at www.acas.org.uk: pdf  Research summaries: Sexual orientation and religion or belief discrimination in the workplace [266kb], Ben Savage, Acas 2007; and Ann Denvir et al, IES 2007
  4. Acas' aim is to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations. It provides information, advice, training and a range of services working with employers and employees to prevent or resolve problems and improve performance. It is an independent statutory body governed by a Council consisting of the Acas Chair and employer, trade union and independent members.

For press enquiries please contact Lou Owen or Estelle Lam, telephone 020 7210 3920/3621