What is indirect discrimination?
Indirect discrimination refers to situations where a workplace provision, criterion or practice puts people of a particular sexual orientation or gender identity at a particular disadvantage.
A packaging warehouse offers an ongoing training programme for its staff. This allows staff to develop skills for use on heavy lifting machinery and to eventually receive their fork lift truck license. It is company policy not to alter the details on an employee’s training record once they have been registered for a course. The company believe this is the best way to ensure records are accurately maintained and the administration tasks for the programme are reduced.
While the policy appears to treat all employees equally, in practice it places trans staff at a particular disadvantage. This policy could prevent trans staff from receiving their training certificates in their preferred name, and would reveal their gender identity to future employers.
As this conduct amounts to indirect discrimination rather than direct discrimination, in certain circumstances, such a policy may be justified. The employer would need to show that it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. In these types of cases, the rights of different groups need to be considered alongside each other to deliver the fairest outcome.