Being treated unfairly because of who you are or a protected characteristic such as disability or race.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is when someone is treated unfairly because of who they are or because of a protected characteristic such as:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex or sexual orientation
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity.

Treating someone less favourably because of who they are is a form of direct discrimination.

However you don't have to have a protected characteristic to be discriminated against. If someone thinks you have a characteristic and treats you less favourably, that's a form of direct discrimination by perception.

Indirect discrimination

Indirect discrimination is when a provision, criteria or practice is applied in the same way for everyone, but this has the effect of putting people sharing a protected characteristic at a disadvantage.

It doesn’t matter if there was no intention to disadvantage that group. What matters is whether that action does disadvantage that group in some way. An example of this could be a dress-code or rules on appearance which might indirectly discriminate against individuals or groups of a particular religion, belief or sex.

Indirect discrimination applies to all protected characteristics other than pregnancy and maternity, although something that disadvantages pregnant women or new mothers may be indirect sex discrimination.

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