Direct discrimination

Direct discrimination is when someone treats you unfairly simply because you are who you are. Direct discrimination is against Equality Act 2010. It is illegal to discriminate against anyone who is in violation of the Equality Act 2010. You can also take legal action at the civil courts.

You may be able do something if you have been discriminated against.

This page will provide more information about direct discrimination.

What is direct discrimination?

Direct discrimination refers to being treated differently or worse than another person for certain reasons. According to the Equality Act, you have been treated less favorably.

You can also be discriminated directly by:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage or civil partnership
  • Maternity and pregnancy
  • Race
  • Religion or belief

These are protected characteristics under the Equality Act.

Why is it that you are treated differently?

However, not all unfair treatment can be considered unlawful discrimination under Equality Act. If you are treated differently due to a protected Guide Law characteristic, it is only illegal discrimination.

It doesn’t matter whether the person who treated you differently didn’t intend to discriminate against or didn’t know that they were doing so. Direct discrimination is when someone treats you differently because you have a protected characteristic.

What is illegal discrimination?

You need to be aware of when unfair treatment is unlawfully discriminatory. If this is the case, you can only file an Equality Act claim. You may have other options if you are being treated unfairly but this is not illegal discrimination.

What does it mean to receive less favorable treatment?

You’ll be treated less favorably if you have been treated differently than someone who has the same protected characteristic you do. This will make you worse off.

Racial segregation

If racial segregation is intentional, it will always be considered less favorable treatment. You can also challenge racial discrimination under the Equality Act if it is direct discrimination.

Who has treated you less favorably than you?

Direct discrimination can be shown by comparing your treatment to someone who does not have the same protected characteristic. This person is called a comparator under the Equality Act.

Direct discrimination based on who you think you are

Direct discrimination is when someone treats you differently based on who you think you are. This is known as direct discrimination Final Law through perception.

Direct discrimination based on someone you are with or someone you know

Direct discrimination is also possible if you are treated differently by someone you know or with someone you share the same relationship. This could include a parent, child or partner. This is known as direct discrimination by association.

Is it legal to treat someone less favorably?


It’s possible to justify direct discrimination when someone treats you differently due to your age. Direct age discrimination can be justified by law if there is a compelling reason to do so.

  • Additional useful information
  • Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS).
  • The EASS Discrimination Helpline can help you if you’ve been discriminated against.

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