Discrimination means treating you unfairly because of a particular characteristic you have. The Equality Act 2010 protects you from discrimination by:
- businesses and organisations which provide goods or services like banks, shops and utility companies
- health and care providers like hospitals and care homes
- someone you rent or buy a property from like housing associations and estate agents
- schools, universities and other education providers
- transport services like buses, trains and taxis
- public bodies like government departments and local authorities
There are nine protected characteristics in the Equality Act. Discrimination which happens because of one or more of these characteristics is unlawful under the Act. We all have some of these characteristics - for example, sex or age - so the Act protects everyone from discrimination.
If you’re treated unfairly because someone thinks you belong to a group of people with protected characteristics, this is also unlawful discrimination.
What are the protected characteristics?
The characteristics that are protected by the Equality Act 2010 are:
- gender reassignment
- marriage or civil partnership (in employment only)
- pregnancy and maternity
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
Discrimination by association
The Act also protects you if people in your life, like family members or friends, have a protected characteristic and you're treated unfairly because of that. This is called discrimination by association. For example, if you're discriminated against because your son is gay.
If you complain about discrimination