Under the Equality Act 2010 discrimination has three different levels:

  • Direct discrimination
  • Discrimination by association
  • Discrimination by perception
  • Indirect discrimination

What is direct discrimination?

This occurs when someone is treated less favourably than another person because of a protected characteristic (age, disability, gender, gender identity, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation).

What is discrimination by association?

This is direct discrimination against someone because they associate with another person who possesses a protected characteristic.

What is discrimination by perception?

This is discrimination against an individual because others think they possess a protected characteristic. It applies even if the person doees not actually possess that characteristic.

What is indirect discrimination?

This occurs when a company or organisation has a rule, policy or practice which applies to everyone but particularly disadvantages people who share a protected characteristic. Indirect discrimination can be justified if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.