Discrimination & Equality

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Equality and discrimination laws are complex and employees should seek specialist advice in order to protect their workplace rights.

Over the past four decades a framework of wide-ranging laws have been introduced to prevent individuals from being discriminated against in the workplace. The Equality Act 2010 (EqA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of:

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

These are known as Protected Characteristics.

Protections have also been introduced to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of part-time worker status, agency worker status or fixed-term worker status.

Under the EqA the following types of treatment on the grounds of one or more of a person’s Protected Characteristics are prohibited:

Direct Discrimination

This means treating a person less favourably because of one or more Protected Characteristic.

Indirect Discrimination

This means applying a provision, criterion, or practice (PCP) within the workplace which is not intended to be discriminatory but which has the effect of disadvantaging employees with a particular Protected Characteristic.


This means subjecting an employee to unwanted conduct relating to one or more Protected Characteristic which has the purpose or effect of either violating the employee’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for the employee.


This means subjecting an employee to a detriment because they have done a “Protected Act”. A Protected Act is the making of a claim or complaint of discrimination, or helping someone else to make a claim by giving evidence or information, or making an allegation that someone else has breached the EqA.

Instructing, causing, inducing or knowingly helping unlawful acts

It is unlawful to instruct, cause, induce, or knowingly help another person to discriminate, harass, or victimise another person.

Failure to make reasonable adjustments

The EqA requires employers to make “reasonable adjustments” to help disabled employees and job applicants where appropriate. This duty can arise where a disabled person is put at a substantial disadvantage by a PCP of the employer or a physical feature of the employer’s premises.


If you have been subjected to discrimination in the workplace, or have not been treated equally, please email or call Blacks Solicitors’ expert Employment Law team today on 0113 207 0000 to see how we can help you.