Employment, Workplace Law

Publish date

24 September 2018

Are you being discriminated against?

As a young professional it can be hard to keep up with all of your work, deadlines, meetings, targets and know what your rights are in relation to discrimination. Well, fear not!  We have set out a brief guide for you, below.

Protected characteristics

We hear a lot of the time that a colleague just doesn’t like you or you just don’t seem to gel.  It’s not enough for a discrimination claim we’re afraid.  For discrimination to occur it has to be because of or linked to one (or more) of the below, known as ‘protected characteristics’:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation.

Types of discrimination

We now know which protected characteristic we are relying on but what type of discrimination has occurred?  We are finding more and more that people feel they have been discriminated against but that it does not fit into one of the types of discrimination, set out below.

Direct discrimination

Direct discrimination occurs where A treats B less favourably because of a protected characteristic.

E.g. you are not given that promotion because of your mixed race.

Indirect discrimination

Indirect discrimination occurs where A applies to B a provision criterion or practice (PCP) that puts B at a disadvantage because of a protected characteristic that B has when compared to others. That A cannot demonstrate that this PCP is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

E.g. your employer requires everyone to work full time in the office but owing to a disability or child care you may be put at a disadvantage and your employer cannot objectively justify this PCP.


Harassment occurs where A engages in unwanted conduct with B related to their protected characteristic which has the purpose of:

  • Violating B’s dignity
  • Creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for B.

E.g. Employee A continually berates and belittles B because of their religion.

Harassment can become sexual harassment when the unwanted behaviour is of a sexual nature.


Victimisation is a word that springs to people’s lips at the drop of a hat but actually it is not as easy as that. Victimisation only occurs where A subjects B to a detriment because B has either done, or A believes B has done or may bring a claim, assist by providing information in relation to or allege that A has contravened the Equality Act 2010.

Our thoughts

Being discriminated can be a very hard and lonely place.  You might even question, ‘is this really happening to me?’  If you suspect that you are being discriminated against, on any of the above grounds, we suggest that you keep a note/evidence of all of the events that you think are acts of discrimination and seek legal advice.

You should bear in mind that there are time limits for discrimination claims which run three months less one day from the last discriminatory act and so you must not delay in talking with someone about it.

Alternatively, if you wear a managerial hat or run your own business, you may have someone alleging they have been discriminated against.  Speak to a professional to run through the facts to help resolve the matter.

Our final thought on this subject is that whilst compensation for discrimination claims is uncapped, they do not all have huge pay outs like we see in the news.  Those are the exceptional cases.

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