The Equality Act replaced all previous equality legislation in Britain. It also put decisions made by courts on a statutory footing thereby answering questions around whether a decision made about one protected characteristic would be extended to all.

Types of discrimination

Direct discrimination definition: deliberately treating someone less favourably due to a protected characteristic

defence: occupational requirements are allowed if there aren’t enough people with the required characteristic to do the work.

Associative discrimination definition: direct discrimination against someone who associates with a person who has a

protected characteristic (excluding marital status or pregnancy)

defence: occupational requirements may be a defence may be a defence.

Discrimination by perception definition: direct discrimination against someone who is thought to have a protected characteristic (not including marital status or pregnancy)

defence: none.

Indirect discrimination definition: imposing conditions which cover everyone but have the (unintentional) effect of restricting the number of people with protected characteristics

defence: that the restriction is justifiable (extremely rare and does not apply simply because the organisation wishes to save money).

Victimisation definition: treating someone less favourably for taking steps under discrimination legislation (e.g. bringing a tribunal claim or making an allegation that a discriminatory act has occurred)

defence: none (but if someone was treated less favourably because of an allegation that was false or not in good faith there can be no victimisation)

Harassment definition: violation of dignity or being forced to work in a hostile environment (the behaviour does not have to be directed at the complainant, nor does the complainant have to possess the protected characteristic; does not apply to marital status or pregnancy; employees also have protection against harassment by association and perception)

defence: none.