Discrimination, in legal terms, refers to a wide range of protection provided to workers against discrimination on grounds of sex, race, disability, age, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status. These are referred to as ‘protected characteristics’.

Most of these protections are now found in the Equality Act 2010.

Discrimination can occur in a number of ways, and, in the employment context, a wide variety of employees, workers and freelancers are protected.

Types of discrimination:

Direct Discrimination – where a person with a protected characteristic is treated less favourably than others ‘because of’ that characteristic.

Indirect Discrimination – a practice or way of working in the workplace that puts a person with a protected characteristic at a disadvantage as compared to others.

Discrimination by Association – detrimental treatment because someone a person knows or is associated with has a protected characteristic.

Discrimination by Perception – detrimental treatment because someone believes a person belongs to a group with protected characteristics.

Harassment – unwanted behaviour related to a protected characteristic that makes a person reasonably feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.

Victimisation – when a person is treated badly or subjected to detriment because they raised or supported a complaint of discrimination.

We have a lot of further information about discrimination here.

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Updates: For employers: Discrimination | For employees: Discrimination |

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Other employment law terms

  1. ACAS Early Conciliation
  2. Adoption appointments
  3. Adoption leave
  4. Alternative dispute resolution
  5. Ante-natal care
  6. Apprenticeship
  7. Basic award
  8. Collective consultation
  9. Compensatory award
  10. Compromise agreement
  11. Constructive dismissal
  12. Contract of employment
  13. Disciplinary hearing
  14. Employee shareholder
  15. Employment tribunal
  16. ETO reason
  17. Flexible working requests
  18. Grievance
  19. Gross misconduct
  20. Harassment
  21. Industrial action
  22. Injury to feelings
  23. Maternity and parental rights
  24. Maternity leave
  25. Maternity pay
  26. Mediation
  27. Parental leave
  28. Paternity leave and pay
  29. Polkey deduction
  30. Pre-termination negotiations
  31. Protected characteristics
  32. Redundancy
  33. Restrictive covenants
  34. Settlement agreement
  35. Shared parental leave
  36. Staff handbook
  37. Statutory annual leave
  38. Strikes
  39. Study and training rights
  40. Summary dismissal
  41. Sunday working
  42. Trade union
  43. TUPE
  44. Unfair dismissal
  45. Unlawful deductions
  46. Victimisation
  47. Whistle-blowing
  48. Without prejudice
  49. Working Time Regulations
  50. Written particulars
  51. Wrongful dismissal
  52. Zero hours contracts