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April 15, 2024

Gender Disparities in Employment Tribunals: Men More Likely to Pursue Claims than Women

Men were found to be more likely than women to bring employment disputes to the tribunal stage between 2011 and 2021, according to data obtained through a Freedom of Information request. The Ministry of Justice data revealed that men constituted the majority of claimants in 18 out of 22 categories of tribunal cases. However, in four specific categories—equal pay, part-time workers, sex discrimination, and detriment or dismissal due to pregnancy—more women reached the tribunal. While claimants are not obligated to disclose their gender, most choose to do so.

Over the span of a decade, women were least likely to file claims against hasty redundancy procedures, with men accounting for 68% of such cases. Pam Loch, the founder and principal of employment law and HR firm Loch Associates Group, explained that women have historically been deterred from pursuing claims to the tribunal for various reasons. One significant factor she identified is the power imbalance between genders in the workplace. Men may perceive employment claims to carry greater economic stakes due to factors like higher salaries, positions of authority, and financial responsibilities.

Loch also suggested that social expectations could influence men to pursue their claims through to the tribunal, while women might be discouraged by negative past experiences when appealing to authority or by perceptions of bias within the legal system. Shakil Butt, the founder of consultancy HR Hero for Hire, pointed out that these figures reflect the enduring dominance of men in the workplace. He attributed this phenomenon to the historical construction of the contemporary work environment, which was predominantly designed by white, able-bodied men for men like themselves.

Butt further noted that men may feel more comfortable expressing their views and raising objections to their treatment at work. They may feel more enabled and supported by existing structures and societal norms, compared to women who have faced challenges competing in a traditionally male-dominated world. Consequently, women are more likely to conform, suppress their concerns, or be gaslighted into thinking their issues are insignificant and accept an exclusionary culture.

However, Loch mentioned that her firm has witnessed a significant increase in the number of women raising grievances at work, possibly influenced by the #MeToo movement. In recent years, women have become more aware of their rights in the workplace and feel empowered to come forward, assert their rights, and file employment claims when they believe their rights have been violated. Loch stated that the #MeToo movement prompted organizations to reevaluate their policies, procedures, and workplace cultures to more effectively address these concerns.

Additionally, upcoming reforms to the Workers Protection amendment of the 2010 Equality Act will impose a duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

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