The definition of discrimination is being treated differently because of your race, gender, age, or if you have a disability. Proving discrimination can be difficult, so it is important to be aware of what it is and the process of reporting it. If necessary, it may result in an employment tribunal or legal action.

The law

The law that covers this is the Equality Act 2010 Part 5. Essentially it provides protection against discrimination. Where this can become complicated is that certain aspects of work that favour other people are not necessarily due to discrimination- for example, a job that requires people to work evenings and weekends may negatively impact women more because they are more likely to have childcare commitments, but this is not likely due to discrimination.

The aspects that people need to consider in these cases are referred to as “protected characteristics.” This includes protecting people due to their ages, gender (or if they are undergoing gender reassignment), race or if they have a disability.

An example

One example of how these protected characteristics could be breached is for women. If a woman has to leave a job temporarily for their maternity leave and are then told they cannot return to work after the maternity leave has finished, there would be a case for claiming discrimination.

Multiple claims

People can sometimes be more than one protected characteristic, such as a black LGBTQ member or a disabled mother. In these instances, you would need to make a claim for each individual separate protected characteristic.


Sometimes, a person may get unfair treatment if they have complained before or on behalf of a colleague. This is considered victimisation, and this can be a separate claim as well.

Who is covered

It doesn’t matter if you have a written or verbal agreement with your employer. It is also irrelevant if you are a freelancer, apprentice or working on a zero-hour contract (though self-employed people are not covered under this.) If you believe you are being discriminated against, you can make a claim.

Your employer is responsible if it happens in your work environment or during outside work events such as trade fairs or office parties. If a consultant hired by the company is found to have discriminated against you, the employer is also responsible for them as well.

Taking action

An employer has to be seen to address any issues that arise due to discrimination. It is not enough to point out an “equal opportunities policy,” there has to be action taken.

We can help
If you are not sure if your case is discrimination or are unsatisfied with the response by your employer, we want to help. Our motto has always been “Big enough to specialise, small enough to care,” providing both the resources our team needs with the customer service you want and deserve. Talk to our specialist team today and we will be able to go over your case and help you take this further if necessary.