The Four Types Of Discrimination

Under the Equality Act 2010, there are four main types of discrimination. The four types of discrimination are direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation. 

Group of employees where no direct discrimination is taking place

1. Direct Discrimination

Direct discrimination is where somebody has been treated differently or worse than another employee due to an underlying reason. These underlying reasons maybe someone’s age, race, religion or beliefs.

An example is if an older employee is not allowed to work as part of a social media marketing team because they are considered too old to understand the concepts, despite having the same level of expertise as younger employees. This example is a direct form of discrimination against this more senior employee due to their age.

Direct discrimination is split into three separate categories. The categories include:

  • Ordinary direct discrimination. Where somebody is treated differently because of a protected characteristic. It’s the only type of direct discrimination which may be lawful, but only if it is ‘objectively justifiable’.
  • Direct discrimination by association. Where somebody is treated differently because of a protected characteristic possessed by someone who they are associated with. Examples are a friend who is a fellow work colleague.
  • Direct discrimination by perception. Where somebody is treated differently because of a protected characteristic people think they possess, regardless of whether the perception is correct or not.

Direct discrimination can be both an intentional or unintentional act. But, if the action is unintentional, are you still able to claim against the perpetrator? The answer is yes. In discrimination cases, the most important focus is how the victim feels rather than whether the perpetrator meant it in that way.

Tape measure showing height as an indirect discrimination
Boss harassing an employee
Man who is leaving work because of being subject to victimisation
One of our solicitors working on a discrimination case