Discrimination At Work (It’s So Over)

“Discrimination at work – It’s so  over”, pamphlet by Stonewall, 2004, 8 pages

New laws mean you don’t have to put up with grief over your sexual orientation. Not anymore.

So begins Stonewall’s slender A6 pamphlet, making clear the effects on employment practice of the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003. It details the three kinds of grief (direct and indirect discrimination, and harassment) addressed by the new regulations; mentions the limited exceptions (pensions aren’t covered, religious bodies may be exempt, and some jobs might possibly require a person of a particular orientation), advises on courses of action that people with grievances may take, and finishes with a handy list of telephone contact numbers.

To achieve so much in eight small pages and include pleasant artwork is no small feat. It does mean, however, that some compromises have been made. The text refers to the “new laws”, but doesn’t name the legislation. It gives proportional data on harassment and discrimination but provides no citations. In places the phrasing is weak and the idiom American (“straight folks”, “One in 25 lesbians, gay men and bisexuals reckon…”). The advice on how to deal with problems is skimpy: there’s no suggestion of incident logging or obtaining corroborating witnesses, and the authors are perhaps a little sanguine about how well informed staff associations and trade unions may be.

It’s a good tool for raising basic awareness, but I’d suggest also reading Stonewall’s Guidelines for Employers, which is also available for download in Word and PDF formats from their website (www.stonewall.org.uk), and the legislation itself, which you can order from HMSO, or pick up for free at www.hmso.gov.uk/si/si2003/20031661.htm

Kay Dekker, April 2004