Types of Discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 sets out seven different types of discrimination. These can be broken into four categories:


The seven types are as follows:

Direct Discrimination
Direct discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably than another person because of a protected characteristic.

Associative Discrimination
Associative discrimination occurs when someone is directly discriminated against because they are associated with another person who possesses a protected characteristic.

Discrimination by Perception
Discrimination by perception occurs when someone is directly discriminated against because others think that they possess a particular protected characteristic. They do not necessarily have to possess the characteristic, just be perceived to have the characteristic.

Indirect discrimination
Indirect discrimination occurs when there is a rule or policy that applies to everyone but disadvantages a person with a particular protected characteristic.

Harassment occurs when there is behaviour that is deemed offensive by the recipient. Affected persons can complain of behaviour that they find offensive even if it is not directed at them.
For behaviour to count as harassment in equality law, it has to be one of three types:

  • unwanted behaviour related to the protected characteristics listed in the Equality Act 2010
  • sexual harassment
  • less favourable treatment because of submission to or rejection of previous sex or gender reassignment harassment

Harassment by a Third Party
Harassment by a third party occurs when an employer subjecting their employee to harassment where:

  • a third party subjects the employee to harassment in the course of the employee’s employment
  • the employer fails to take reasonably practicable steps to protect their employee from that third-party harassment
  • the harassment is known to have occurred on at least two previous occasions
  • the third-party harasser does not have to be the same individual on each occasion or employed by the same organisation

Victimisation occurs when someone is treated badly because they have made or supported a complaint or grievance under this Equality Act 2010.
If you would like to discuss any issues relating to discrimination please contact us.