What is discrimination? 

The Equality Act (2010) sets out three types of unlawful discrimination: direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, and discrimination arising from a disability. 

Direct discrimination 
Direct discrimination occurs when you treat a person less favourably than you treat (or would treat) another person because of a protected characteristic as laid out in The Equality Act (2010): 
  • age,
  • disability, 
  • gender reassignment, 
  • marriage and civil partnership, 
  • pregnancy and maternity, 
  • race, 
  • religion or belief (including lack of belief), 
  • sex, 
  • sexual orientation. 
This could be refusing to give someone a job because of their race or not admitting them on to a course because of their religious beliefs. 

It is not possible to justify direct discrimination, so it is always unlawful.  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. You do not need to find an actual person to compare their treatment with but can rely on a hypothetical person if you can show there is evidence that such a person would be treated differently. 

There are a couple of instances where it is acceptable to treat someone differently. It is not discrimination against males if a woman is pregnant and a reasonable adjustment is put in place in connection with her pregnancy or childbirth which would mean she was being treated differently. The same applies for a disabled student or member of staff; reasonable adjustments to support a student in an exam, for example, would not constitute direct discrimination against a non-disabled student. 

Direct discrimination can also take place based on association with someone with a protected characteristic, or it can be based on perception.  In this case you do not need to have a particular protected characteristic to experience direct discrimination; it can occur, for example, if someone is treated less favourably because they have a partner who has a disability, or because a person is mistakenly thought to be gay. 

Indirect discrimination 
Indirect discrimination occurs when you apply a provision, criteria or practice in the same way for everyone but this has the effect of putting people sharing a protected characteristic at a particular disadvantage. It doesn’t matter that you did not intend to disadvantage that group.  What does matter is whether your action does or would disadvantage that group in some way. 

Indirect discrimination will occur if the following three conditions are met: 
  • the provision, criterion or practice is applied or would be applied equally to all people, including a particular person or group with a protected characteristic; 
  • the provision, criterion or practice puts or would put people sharing a protected characteristic at a particular disadvantage compared to relevant people who do not share that characteristic; and 
  • the provision, criterion or practice puts or would put the particular person or group at that disadvantage, and it cannot be shown that the provision, criteria or practice is justified as a ‘proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’. 
Discrimination arising from disability 
Discrimination arising from disability occurs when you treat a disabled person unfavourably because of something connected with their disability and cannot justify such treatment. Discrimination arising from disability is different from direct discrimination. Direct discrimination occurs because of the protected characteristic of disability. In cases of discrimination arising from disability, the reason for the treatment does not matter; the question is whether the disabled person has been treated unfavourably because of something connected with their disability. 

Discrimination arising from disability is also different from indirect discrimination. There is no need to show that other people have been affected alongside the individual disabled person or for the disabled person to compare themselves with anyone else. 

Discrimination arising from disability will occur if the following three conditions are met: 
  • a disabled person is treated unfavourably, that is, they are put at a disadvantage, even if this was not the intention; 
  • this treatment is because of something connected with the disabled person's disability (which could be the result, effect or outcome of that disability) such as an inability to walk unaided or disability-related behaviour; and 
  • the treatment cannot be justified by showing that it is ‘a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’. 

What if I’m being discriminated against? 

We believe discrimination is Never OK.

Discrimination occurs when an individual or a group of people are treated less favourably than others based on a protected characteristic such as age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership (in employment), pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex or gender, sexual orientation.  

Think 
  • Is it unlawful discrimination? It might be useful to think about what constitutes unlawful discrimination. 
  • Was it against University Regulations? If it is the University can take action if the is something you choose to do. Regardless if it breaches University Regulations or not, Student Services are available to support you. 
Talk 
  • To a friend. Talking things through with someone you trust can sometimes help. 
  • Student Life Adviser. An adviser can talk through the University's procedures, how to make a complaint and what support is available, in confidence. 
  • Student Resident Life Team. Whether it is your parish Student Services Resident (SSR) or the Duty SSR, if you are living in UEA residences there is someone to talk to. 
  • The uea(su) Advice Service. A free, confidential, impartial service where an adviser can talk through the procedure, how to complain, what options are available and support you through the process.  
  • Human Resource Adviser. An adviser can talk through option whether the incident involved another staff member at UEA, a student, or a visitor to campus. 
  • Employee Assistance Programme. This free confidential 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year service is an UEA employee benefit available. Confidential support independent from UEA, with professional consultation, counselling, information, resources and referrals to services in your local area 
Report 
  • Report and Support. Students and staff can report an incident using the University’s Report and Support system. You can choose to do this anonymously or you can request support from an adviser. If you choose to talk to an adviser they will be able to talk through the options and support available to you, in confidence. 
  • University Procedure. If you choose to make a formal complaint to the University about a student or member of staff there are procedures which set out the steps you'll need to follow. 
Get Support 
Mental Health and Wellbeing 
1 in 4 people are affected by a mental health problem in any year and it is estimated that around 1 in 5 people has contemplated suicide or self-harm. 

Helping Others 

If you are worried about someone else being discriminated against?

If you think someone you know has been discriminated against, there are lots of ways in which you can help them. 
Understanding the behaviours associated with discrimination is a good place to start. Most people will be able to describe what has or is happening to them and how it's making them feel. 
 
You can find more information and advice on the I'm worried about someone else page. 
  
Find out more 
Equality and Human Rights Commision (EHRC) provide further information on unlawful harassment being discriminated against
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