Discrimination, broadly, means being targeted against because of something that makes you different for example, age, race, sexuality, ability, or religion. There are a number of different forms of discrimination, such as direct discrimination, indirect discrimination or discrimination by association. 

Direct discrimination
This means treating someone less favourably than someone else because of a protected characteristic. 

In order for someone to show that they have been directly discriminated against, they must compare what has happened to them to the treatment a person without their protected characteristic is receiving or would receive. For example, a programme member who is gay  cannot claim that removing them from the programme for unprofessional behaviour is direct discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation unless they can show that a heterosexual or bisexual programme member would not be removed for the same reason. The individual does not need to find an actual person to compare their treatment with but can rely on a hypothetical person if they can show there is evidence that such a person would be treated differently.

Indirect discrimination
Indirect discrimination occurs when a provision, criteria or practice is put in place for all individuals in the same way  but this has the effect of putting a group of people who share a protected characteristic at disadvantage.  It doesn’t matter if there was no intention to do this. What does matter is whether the  action does or would disadvantage such people compared with people who do not share that characteristic.

‘Disadvantage’ is not defined in the Act but a rule of thumb is that a reasonable person would consider that disadvantage had occurred. It can take many different forms, such as denial of an opportunity or choice, deterrence, rejection or exclusion. 

Discrimination based on association

Direct discrimination also occurs when an individual is treated less favourably because of their association with another person who has a protected characteristic (other than pregnancy and maternity).

Discrimination based on perception

Discrimination based on perception occurs if an individual is treated less favourably because they are  mistakenly thought to have  a protected characteristic.


There are two ways you can tell us what happened