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Huge rise in homophobia claims to employment tribunals

There has been a surge in homophobia claims to Employment Tribunals over the last 12 months.

The number of claims involving discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation rose from 203 in 2016/17 to 377 in 2017/18 - a rise of 85%.

The chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Rebecca Hilsenrath, said: "There is no room in today's Britain for prejudice and harassment of the LGBT community and sadly these figures show it's still very much a feature of the landscape. This really needs to stop, and quickly.

"Everyone has the right to a working environment that helps them achieve their full potential."

She said the figures showed that the introduction of tribunal fees five years ago had discouraged people from bringing claims, but now they were ready to proceed again because the government had abolished fees following a Supreme Court ruling that they were unlawful.

Legal experts say while the abolition of tribunal fees was partly responsible for the increased number of claims, it was also likely that changing attitudes played a major part.

Victims of homophobic discrimination have become more assertive and aware of their rights. They are less likely to suffer in silence as they may have done in the past, and more likely to take legal action to protect themselves.

The rise in claims relating to homophobia reflects an overall rise in tribunal claims since the abolition of fees.

Figures released by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) show that notifications to bring a claim increased in the year to July 2018 by 17,000 (19%). The number of cases that went on to appear before a tribunal rose by 7,000 (39%).

The ACAS helpline received 783,000 calls in the year to July. The top three categories were discipline, dismissal and grievances; contracts; wages and the national minimum wage.

Businesses may wish to check that their employment policies are up to date to reduce the risk of costly and time-consuming claims from employees.

For further advice on any of the issues raised in this article, or for employment law advice more generally, please contact JPP Law on 020 3468 3064 or email info@jpplaw.co.uk

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