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Discrimination means treating a person unfairly because of who they are or because they possess certain characteristics. If you have been treated differently from other people only because of who you are or because you possess certain characteristics, you may have been discriminated against. 

The Equality Act 2010 highlights 9 protected characteristics: 
  1. Age
  2. Gender
  3. Race
  4. Disability
  5. Religion
  6. Pregnancy and maternity
  7. Sexual orientation
  8. Gender reassignment
  9. Marriage and civil partnership
Discrimination that occurs because of one or more of the above characteristics is unlawful under the Equality Act. Considering every person has at least some of these characteristics such as age, race or gender, the Act protects every person from being discriminated against.

Types of Discrimination
 
There are three different forms of discrimination, which can occur separately or in conjunction with one another: 

Direct  – when someone is treated less favourably on the grounds that they are believed to have a protected characteristic. 

By association – discrimination due to someone’s relationship to a person with a protected characteristic. 

By perception – discrimination due to perception that they have a protected characteristic.

  Some scenario-based examples of discrimination include, but are not limited to:
  • A manager disciplines an employee because they have to take time off to care for their disabled child. Other staff who have had similar amounts of time off work are not disciplined. This could be direct discrimination by association under the protected characteristic of disability. 
  • A heterosexual student wishes to conduct their dissertation on a topic relating to LGBTQA+ equality.  A staff member refuses to supervise them in the belief that the student is gay. This is direct discrimination by perception.  
  • Ignoring an individual because they are perceived to have a protected characteristic when they do not, in fact, have the protected characteristic. 
The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s definition for discrimination can be found here: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/what-discrimination 

If you are treated unfavourably because someone thinks you belong to a particular group of people with protected characteristics, this is also unlawful discrimination.  You can report what has happened to you  anonymously, ask to  speak to an advisor or access our support pages.
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