Unlawful Discrimination

Call today for a free initial chat with an Employment Lawyer on (09) 214 5780.*


Employment related unlawful discrimination is prohibited by the Human Rights Act 1993 and the Employment Relations Act 2000. While there is an overlap, only the Human Rights Act will cover applicants for work and post employment vicitimisation.

Both Acts do not prohibit discrimination generally but instead prohibit discrimination one of the prohibited grounds. The prohibited grounds are: Sex (including pregnancy and childbirth); Age, Race or colour; Ethnic or national origins; Religious or ethical belief; Sexual orientation; Political opinion;  Religious belief; Marital or family status; Disability; Employment status .

It is also unlawful to discrimination on the grounds of involvement in the activities of a union.  From 01 April 2019, it is unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of being affected by Domestic Violence

The main forms of prohibited discrimination can be summarised as follows:

occurs where a person is treated less favourably than others by reason of one of the prohibited grounds. An example of direct discrimination is an employer refusing to promote a female employee to a management role because he does not think women make good managers. There are very limited justifications for direct discrimination.
occurs where a practice, rule or requirement has the effect of treating a person or a group of people who share the same prohibited ground of discrimination less favourably. An example of indirect discrimination may be paying greater redundancy severance to employees with 20 years’ service. This may indirectly discriminate against younger workers. That said, unlike direct discrimination which can only be justified in limited circumstances, indirect discrimination can be justified if there is a good reason for it.
occurs where a person (or a relative or associate) is treated less favourably or threatened with less favourable treatment because he or she has used or intended to use any rights or otherwise done anything under or by reference to the Human Rights Act 1998 or the Protected Disclosure Act 2000.

occurs where:

occurs when a person uses language, visual material or physical behavior that expresses hostility against any other person on the grounds of the colour, race, or ethnic or national origins of that person and it is hurtful or offensive to that other person. The behavior must be repeated or of such a significant nature that it has a detrimental effect on that other person.

Where an employee has a disability (which Is widely defined), the employer has a duty to accommodate the needs of that employee to the extent it is reasonable to do so.

Most claims for discrimination can be brought under the Employment Relations Act 2000 in the Employment Relations Authority (the first step is to raise a personal grievance see Personal Grievance) or the Human Rights Act 1993 in the Human Rights Review Tribunal. There are advantages and disadvantages to both proceedings and employees who think they may have a claim for unlawful discrimination should promptly seek advice on the appropriate forum and the applicable time limits.

If you have or are being discriminated against, contact us on (09) 214 5780. We may be able to stop it happening, or if things have gone too far, we can seek a negotiated severance for you.

* Provided we do have a conflict of interest and that there is no other reason why we could not act, we are happy to have initial 15 minute telephone consultation free of charge.

Disclaimer: The above information is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on the information given.