Discrimination in the workplace… and the ‘gay cake row’

Discrimination in the workplace… and the ‘gay cake row’

Posted on Nov 04, 2016

Discrimination in the workplace… and the ‘gay cake row’



Did you hear the story about the ‘gay cake row’? If not, here’s the brief:

Gareth Lee, a gay man from Dublin went to a Christian-run bakery, asking for a cake to be produced with a pro-same-sex-marriage slogan (see below).

gay cake row

Nothing unusual about that right? But here’s why it’s called the gay-cake row… Daniel and Amy McArthur (managers of the bakery), refused to bake the cake, as the message was "contrary to their Christian beliefs".

The McArthurs claim, however, that they did not refuse Lee’s custom because he was gay, but only because the message he was requesting went against their beliefs.

However, a business providing a public service has a legal duty to do said duty without discrimination based on race, gender, faith, sexual orientation or any other protected characteristics.

And so in May the court ruled that Lee was discriminated against under the Equality Act 2006 (Sexual Orientation) Regulations. Hoorah!


Discrimination in the workplace

Unfortunately, this case is not an isolated one. Discrimination happens daily, and often in the workplace. If you’re a manager, it is your job to ensure that equality and diversity is achieved.


The Equality Act 2010 – the basics

Now, under the Equality Act 2010, people are protected from discrimination based on protected characteristics such as:

  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Religion and beliefs
  • Sexual orientation.

It is illegal to discriminate against anybody based on a protected characteristic.


So how do you ensure equality and diversity in the workplace?

First of all, it’s important that you are aware that equality does not mean that everyone is treated equally, but rather everyone is treated fairly. Many believe that we can achieve equality through the recognition of diversity.

Promoting diversity means actively valuing and appreciating people’s differences rather than just tolerating them. Not only will this improve satisfaction of your staff, but it will also create a better working environment offering a wider range of skills, ideas and talents.


Managers' checklist

To ensure your organisation promotes equal opportunities and abides by the law, you will need an ‘equal opportunities policy’.

You will also need equality and diversity training for all staff members – we’re talking managers too!

Sometimes bias and discrimination can be unconscious, but it is important that you challenge your staff to be aware of their actions and comments.

Fortunately, flick’s training tackles both of these head-on whilst also looking at politically incorrect language, politically correct myths, what protected characteristics are, and how these relate to your work place. We also offer a downloadable policy template in the flick library.

We can’t tell you how to get to Sesame Street – but we can tell you how to get up-to-date on equality and diversity.

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