How can you be discriminated against under the Equality Act 2010?

There are several forms of discrimination you can face. Some of the most common forms of discrimination are as follows:

Direct discrimination

This type of discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably due to a protected characteristic. There are three separate forms of direct discrimination, which include:

  1. Ordinary direct discrimination. An example of ordinary direct discrimination is an employer not giving a 30-year-old female employee a promotion because they feel that she will likely get pregnant and take maternity leave.
  2. Direct discrimination by association. This form of discrimination is when people associate a person with someone else who possesses a protected characteristic. For example, if a school refuse to take a student because their parents are members of the LGBTQ+ community.
  3. Direct discrimination by perception. This type of direct discrimination is when someone is thought to possess a protected characteristic. For example, an employer not offering someone a job because they assume the applicant is religious.
Indirect discrimination

Indirect discrimination is when an organisation applies a general policy or procedure that will put individuals with a particular protected characteristic at a disadvantage. 


Harassment is when a person is conveying unwanted behaviour to someone else with a protected characteristic to violate another person’s dignity and create a degrading environment for that person. For example, someone spreading untrue rumours about a colleague in the workplace.


Victimisation occurs when someone becomes a victim to harmful behaviour because they have or may do something in good faith, such as reporting discrimination or supporting a complaint of discrimination. A person does not need to have a protected characteristic to be protected by the Equality Act 2010.

Positive discrimination

Positive discrimination someone is when you treat someone favourably because they possess a protected characteristic. An example of positive discrimination is giving someone a promotion because they possess a protected characteristic rather than being the best person for the job.

Interview where the applicant is protected by the Equality Act 2010
One of Britton and Times discrimination solicitors working on a discrimination case where the client is protected by the Equality Act 2010