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Discrimination Law

Equality Act 2010

Introduction to the Equality Act 2010

Discrimination on grounds of Gender Reassignment

Discrimination on grounds of Age

Disability Discrimination Under the Equality Act 2010

Discrimination on grounds of Marriage and Civil Partnership

Discrimination on grounds of Pregnancy and Maternity

Discrimination on grounds of Race

Discrimination on grounds of Religion and Belief

Discrimination on grounds of Sex

Discrimination on grounds of Sexual Orientation

How does it affect businesses

How does it affect private clubs and associations

How does it affect taxi drivers

How does it affect the public sector

Discrimination (Pre Equality Act 2010)

Age Discrimination

Difference Between Direct and Indirect Discrimination


Inciting Hatred

Race Discrimination

Sex Discrimination Act

Disability Discrimination

Disability Discrimination Laws for Volunteers


Discrimination at work: IVF Treatment

Discrimination at work: Christian faith

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The law outlaws discrimination on a number of grounds. There are currently a number of Acts of Parliament which deal with discrimination on different grounds. A single Act encompassing all the current legislation on discrimination is envisaged to be passed in the future.

However, until such a law is enacted we are left with a number of Acts of Parliament, each of which deals with a particular aspect of discrimination.

Current Discrimination Law

The following Acts currently outlaw discrimination on the following grounds:

Discrimination law operates on two fronts:


There are very few. In the employment field, where this legislation is significant, for example there are no hours of work or length of employment qualifications needed before a claimant can use the legislation. However, discrimination can be lawful if sex, race, religion etc is a genuine occupational qualification or requirement. These provisions are quite specific and vary according to the particular ground. They tend to be interpreted narrowly by the courts.

The influence of European Union law

General influence

Member States of the European Union must give effect to EU law and they must also interpret their own law in the light of EU law. EU law has precedence over laws of the Member States. Directives from the EU are an important means of applying EU law in the Member States. A directive requires Member States to enact their own legislation to give effect to EU law within a prescribed timescale.

Where a Member State has not fully implemented European Union law it should be possible to rely directly on EU treaty articles and directives if they are clear, unconditional and do not require the Member State to do anything further to implement them. Under such circumstances, EU measures can be enforced against public sector employers. In the private sector the complainant will have a cause of action against the state itself for not implementing European Union law.

Influence upon discrimination law

UK law relating to sex discrimination has been influenced by a number of EU developments including:

Forms of discrimination

Discrimination can take one of three forms. It may be direct, indirect, or it may be victimisation.

Direct discrimination

The following conditions could constitute direct discrimination:

This is where someone is treated less favourably than a person of a different sex, race, religion etc was treated or would have been treated. A comparison is required and the circumstances of the claimant and the comparator should be similar.

Indirect discrimination

This is where people are treated the same but where there is a disproportionate impact on a particular sex, race, religion etc. The precise formulation is as follows:


This is where the claimant has been subjected to less favourable treatment because they used the legislation or for related matters. The grounds of victimisation are clearly defined - this is not an open category to be used simply because the claimant is aggrieved. In St Helen’s Borough Council v Derbyshire the HL ruled that putting unreasonable pressure on an employee to settle or withdraw a discrimination claim could be victimisation.

Summary of Discrimination Law

A successful claimant will need to establish:

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