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Little Shop of HRs™

Justifying Discrimination

When Can An Employer Justify Discrimination?

Employers - You are allowed to discriminate if you have a good enough reason for doing so and if you can show your reasons are objectively justified. If discrimination is justified, it doesn’t count as unlawful discrimination.

Discrimination can only be justified in certain situations. These are:

  • indirect discrimination because of sex, race, religion, disability, age or sexual orientation

  • discrimination because of something connected to your disability, this is called discrimination arising from a disability

  • direct age discrimination because of age.


Another way of describing this is that the practice is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.



What is a legitimate aim?

 A legitimate aim is the reason behind the discrimination. This reason must not be discriminatory in itself and it must be a genuine or real reason. The legitimate aim might be one of the following: - .

  • the health, safety and welfare of individuals

  • running an efficient service

  • requirements of a business

  • desire to make profit.

What is meant by Proportionate Means?

This is to consider whether the means you have chosen to achieve an aim is ‘proportionate'. The aim or the reason behind the discrimination must be fairly balanced against the disadvantage you’ve imposed because of the discrimination. This means it must be appropriate and necessary.

So, if there are better and less discriminatory ways of doing things, it will be more difficult to justify discrimination in a tribunal.

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 ©2017 Little Shop of HRs

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Copyright © 2017 Catherine Kane Associates


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