Essential points

  • It is against the law to discriminate against someone because they possess one of the ‘protected characteristics’ named in the Equality Act 2010. These include sex, gender reassignment, disability, age, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, being married or in a civil partnership, race, and religion or belief. 
  • Discrimination can occur directly when someone is treated unfairly because of a protected characteristic or indirectly when disadvantaged by a policy or practice and can be in the form of harassment because of a protected characteristic 
  • Victimisation protects those bringing claims and raising complaints (including with their employer). It is unlawful to subject someone to a detriment or dismiss them because of a protected act (or supporting another) namely raising allegations or concerns about discriminatory treatment. 
  • Discriminatory treatment includes dismissal and redundancy, disadvantageous terms and conditions, pay and benefits, opportunities for promotion, training and recruitment. 
  • There is no service requirement for employees to gain discrimination rights, unlike unfair dismissal which (in most cases) require 2 years’ service, discrimination rights apply from day one and even before commencing employment in the case of job applicants. 
  • More information is available on the following pages:

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Please note

While every care has been taken in compiling this content, the CIPD cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. These notes are not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice. 

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