Direct discrimination

Direct discrimination takes places when one person is treated differently than another person because of characteristic they hold which is protected by the Equality Act 2010.

Different treatment  (or ‘less favourable’ and ‘adverse’ treatment) is one that causes a disadvantage to a person such as being fired from a job, or disciplinary action, refusal of entry or service. Discouraging an employeee, treating preferentially or isolating staff is also described as direct discrimination.

Direct discrimination also happens when someone is discriminated against because of their association with someone who has a protected characteristic (i.e. Direct Discrimination by Association), or if they are thought to have it (Direct Discrimnation by Perception).

Indirect discrimination

Indirect discrimination happens when an employer (including sole traders) or organisation providing services or education puts in place service-wide policies or practices that put at disadvantage all people who share the protected characteristic (showing general disadvantage) as well as an individuals with this characteristic (showing personal disadvantage).

Organisations can justify setting policies and practices on the basis of pursuing legitimate aims, such as statutory duty, business needs and economic efficiency. This is descrfibed as ‘objective justification’, however those are required to be proportionate means of achieving the legitimate aim and need to take into account the situation of the individuals involved.



Harassment happens when a person’s dignity is violated, or when you they are subjected to behaviour creating environments that is intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive because of a protected characteristic.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is unlawful unwanted conduct is of a sexual nature or if a person is treated less favourably because of a person’s rejection of or submission to unwanted conduct of a sexual nature .


Victimisation takes place when an employer, or organisation providing education or services subjects a person to a detriment because they are (or might):

  • bring proceedings under the Equality Act;
  • give evidence or information in connection with proceedings under the Act;
  • do any other thing for the purposes of or in connection with the Act; or
  • make an allegation that another person has contravened the Act