Direct discrimination

The following Employment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Direct discrimination
  • Treating someone less favourably
  • The need to make a comparison
  • Comparators
  • Comparison in disability cases
  • Comparison in sexual orientation cases
  • Because of a protected characteristic
  • Caselaw regarding 'on grounds of'
  • Worked example: workplace relationships
  • Knowledge of disability
  • More...

Direct discrimination

This Practice Note examines direct discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 (EqA 2010).

This Practice Note contains references to case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Broadly, EU judgments handed down on or before the end of the Brexit transition period/IP completion day (11 pm on 31 December 2020) continue to be binding on UK courts and tribunals (even if the EU courts later depart from them) until the UK courts exercise their powers to diverge. For the most part, EU case law made after that date is not binding on the UK, although the UK courts and tribunals may continue to ‘have regard to’ EU judgments if relevant. For more detailed information on the treatment of EU case law, see Practice Note: Introduction to retained EU law—Retained case law.

Domestic laws that have been made to implement UK obligations under EU law (such as the obligation to implement a Directive such as the Equal Treatment Framework Directive) are retained EU law. For further information, see Practice Note: Brexit and IP completion day—implications for employment lawyers—Retained EU law.

Treating someone less favourably

A person (A) directly discriminates against another person (B) where:

  1. A treats B less favourably than A treats or would treat others, and

  2. A does so because of a protected characteristic (sex, race etc—see: Protected characteristics—overview)

In this context 'another person'

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