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Sex discrimination and equal pay

Sex discrimination occurs when an employer treats an applicant or employee different because of their gender and is covered by the Equality Act, 2010. Discrimination of this nature is illegal and if you feel you been discriminated against because of your gender there are courses of action available to you. 

Types of sex discrimination

There are four types of discrimination covered by the law.

Victimisation – when an employee is treated unfairly because of a sex discrimination complaint.

Harassment – when a member of staff treats another member of staff unfairly with the intention of intimidating, degrading or humiliating the second employee because of their gender.

Indirect discrimination – when an organisation’s policies, which apply to all employees, are created in such a way that makes on gender feel disadvantaged compared to another gender.

Direct discrimination – when a person is treated less favourably because of their sex or the sex of someone with which they associate.


For clarity, below is a list of situations that may fall under sex discrimination: As an applicant: 

  • If you apply for a job, have the relevant experience and qualifications, yet you are not selected because clients prefer to deal with a particular gender, then sex discrimination may have occurred
  • If a job requires certain qualifications that are gender orientated and the job does not require such qualifications, then discrimination may have occurred 

As an employee:

  • If you lose your job within an organisation yet others within that organisation in the same position and/or less senior keep their jobs and are of a particular gender
  • If you have repeatedly been denied a promotion while less experienced people of different gender have advanced beyond you
  • If the organisation you work for expect you to use sick and holiday leave in order to take time off for a pregnancy but provides specific disability leave for other conditions
  • If you are paid less for doing the same job as someone of a different gender within an organisation
  • If an employer makes advances, comments about your physical appearance and inappropriately touches you
  • If you undergo a gender transition and then lose your job
  • If you are expected to confirm to a gender stereotype

 More information on sex discrimination and what to do if you feel you have been discriminated against can be found here.

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