Direct discrimination
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...

IP COMPLETION DAY: 11pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020 marks the end of the Brexit transition/implementation period entered into following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. At this point in time (referred to in UK law as ‘IP completion day’), key transitional arrangements come to an end and significant changes begin to take effect across the UK’s legal regime. This document contains guidance on subjects impacted by these changes. Before continuing your research, see Practice Note: Brexit and IP completion day—implications for employment lawyers.

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

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' includes a legal person such as a limited company. A company is therefore entitled to protection from direct discrimination.

Less favourable treatment should be looked at from the perspective of an individual rather than the larger group of which they form part. Thus, if people with different protected characteristics, eg men and women, are subjected to the same restriction, eg not being permitted to mix with the opposite gender, any individual is being treated less favourably than if they were of the opposite characteristic by virtue of

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