Discrimination - Your Rights

Part 1: Types of discrimination

It is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of:

  • Age
  • Gender identity
  • Being married or in a civil partnership
  • Being pregnant or having a child
  • Disability
  • Race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • Religion, belief or lack of religion/belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

These are called ‘protected characteristics’.


You’re protected from discrimination in these situations:

  • At work
  • In education
  • As a consumer
  • When using public services
  • When buying or renting property
  • As a member or guest of a private club or association

You are legally protected from discrimination by the Equality Act 2010.

You’re also protected from discrimination if:

You’re associated with someone who has a protected characteristic, eg a family member or friend
you’ve complained about discrimination or supported someone else’s claim.


Action against discrimination

You can do something voluntarily to help people with a protected characteristic. This is called ‘positive action’.

Taking positive action is legal if people with a protected characteristic:

  • Are at a disadvantage
  • Have particular needs
  • Are under-represented in an activity or type of work


Part 2: How you can be discriminated against

Discrimination can come in one of the following forms:

  • Direct discrimination - treating someone with a protected characteristic less favourably than others
  • Indirect discrimination - putting rules or arrangements in place that apply to everyone, but that put someone with a protected characteristic at an unfair disadvantage
  • Harassment - unwanted behaviour linked to a protected characteristic that violates someone’s dignity or creates an offensive environment for them
  • Victimisation - treating someone unfairly because they’ve complained about discrimination or harassment


What you can do

If you think you’ve been unfairly discriminated against you can:

  • Complain directly to the person or organisation
  • Use someone else to help you sort it out (called ‘mediation’ or ‘alternative dispute resolution’)
  • Make a claim in a court or tribunal
  • Contact the Equality Advisory Support Service for help and advice.