Laws against sex discrimination have been in place since 1975, but several extra measures have been added over the years. The main legislative framework was contained within the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, (‘the SDA’). As of 1st October 2010, most existing equality legislation (including the SDA) was consolidated into the Equality Act 2010 (‘The Act’). The legislation creates four types of discrimination: direct, indirect, harassment and victimisation.

Although the definitions of discrimination in ‘The Act’ and the Regulations are phrased in terms of discrimination against women, men are given the same protection, apart from specific protections relating to pregnancy and childbirth. 

Discrimination on grounds of married status is also prohibited by ‘The Act’. This protection only extends to married people or those in civil partnerships who are discriminated against because they are married or due to their civil partnership status; it does not cover single people who are less favourably treated due to their single status.

There are different provisions relating to claims about gender discrimination in relation to pay or other contractual benefits. For more information, see our legal advice guide on Equal Pay, part of the Employment Law Series.

Sex discrimination

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