Discrimination, Victimisation and Harassment
Are you being screwed more than everyone else or are you being screwed literally?
Capitalism, in its generosity, has granted us all the right to
be screwed equally. It is therefore illegal for you to be treated
differently from your fellow workers without good reason. It is
illegal to discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, sexuality,
ability, age, etc. But it is also illegal to discriminate against
someone for any other non-valid reason- because they have big ears
for example. Discrimination can take different forms, it could be
that people of a certain ethnic group are refused promotion, or it
could be that people of certain sexualities are subjected to name
calling, unpleasant jokes, or are excluded from certain activities.
All of this is illegal and if you have suffered discrimination of
the sort mentioned above, or of any other sort, then you may have
been treated illegally.
Regrettably, there is an element within McDonalds management with goose-stepping sympathies, so unfortunately discrimination will tend to rear its ugly head from time to time. However, there are also other more subtle ways that discrimination can occur. For example, it is not acceptable to ascribe people particular tasks on the basis of their gender. Are you always put on tills because you are female or in kitchen because you are male? This is also a discriminatory practice. Similarly, it is discrimination to demand female staff wear skirts while their male colleagues wear trousers. We know management had to back down on this one in the past, but the reverse argument, that men should be allowed to wear skirts, has yet to be tested!
One important note on discrimination- you may think that if it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of age, and if you do the same job as someone else but get paid less because they are a year older than you, then you are being discriminated against. Well… no. Discrimination against young workers is enshrined in law as a cornerstone of minimum pay legislation. No, it doesn’t make sense to us either.
There are specific laws prohibiting victimisation on a number of grounds including but not limited to, trade union membership (your legal right), ‘whistle blowing’ (reporting illegal or unsafe practices to the relevant authorities- also a legal right) and claiming you legal rights under minimum wage and work times regulation laws.
Examples of harassment include unwanted sexual attention,
name-calling, physical intimidation or other bullying. All of the
above and other forms of harassment are illegal.
You should not be subject to any sexual advances you are not comfortable with, nor discriminated against for refusing such attention. You should not be forced to do anything you are uncomfortable with… sexually- unfortunately it is not harassment if you are made to stand by a hot grill for 6 hours.
These pages are ‘use at your own risk’! We’re
burger flippers not lawyers and we strongly recommend you consult a
‘no win, no fee’ solicitor before doing anything crazy.
We can also only provide a superficial overview here. More detailed
information on employment law can be found at:
These pages are based on UK and EU law but some of the
information will be relevant in the US and elsewhere. For
information on US employment rights, see:
Know Your Rights
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Aims and principles