Do you know what counts as discrimination?

Sadly, discrimination can still exist when it comes to finding a new job. Although many businesses have taken positive steps towards removing all types of discrimination from their recruitment process, there are still a few businesses who don’t know what counts as discrimination or fully understand that they are unintentionally discriminating against candidates, whether consciously or sub-consciously.

There are literally hundreds of anti-discrimination laws surrounding the entire recruitment process to help protect jobseekers, but sadly not many candidates are fully aware of what counts as discrimination.

To help understand the basics of discrimination, it’s worth highlighting the ‘protected characteristics’ covered by the Equality Act that are illegal for employers to discriminate against. These are as follows:

• age
• being or becoming a transsexual person
• being married or in a civil partnership
• being pregnant or on maternity leave
• disability
• race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
• religion, belief or lack of religion/belief
• sex (males or female)
• sexual orientation

Under the 2010 Equality Act, there are seven different types of discrimination that are recognised:

Direct discrimination – where someone is treated less favourably than another person because of a protected characteristic

Associative discrimination – this is direct discrimination against someone because they are associated with another person who possesses a protected characteristic

Discrimination by perception – this is direct discrimination against someone because others think that they possess a particular protected characteristic. They do not necessarily have to possess the characteristic, just be perceived to.

Indirect discrimination – this can occur when you have a rule or policy that applies to everyone but disadvantages a person with a particular protected characteristic

Harassment – this is behaviour that is deemed offensive by the recipient. Employees can now complain of the behaviour they find offensive even if it is not directed at them.

Victimisation – this occurs when someone is treated badly because they have made or supported a complaint or grievance under this legislation.

If you feel that you have been subjected to discrimination, you can contact the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) on 0808 800 0082 to discuss any issues on a confidential basis.