Discrimination: Being treated differently because of who or what you are. It's another type of bullying. It's often against the law.

What is discrimination?                        

The legal definition is "when a person is treated less favourably than someone else and that the treatment is for a reason relating to the person’s protected characteristic". 

The Equality Act 2010 covers the law on discrimination.

Citizen's Advice explain: " Discrimination means treating someone worse than other people because of who they are. The groups of people who have the right not be discriminated against have also been extended. People who belong to these groups have what are called protected characteristics."

It doesn't matter whether any of these characteristics apply to you, or the people in your life. If you are treated worse because someone thinks you belong to a group of people with protected characteristics, this is discrimination.

The Act now also protects you if people in your life, such as family members, friends or co-workers have a protected characteristic and you are treated less favourably because of that. For example, you are discriminated against because your son is gay."

What is protected?

"The characteristics that are protected by the Equality Act 2010 are:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender identity and gender reassignment
  • marriage or civil partnership (in employment only)
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation.

If you have one or more of these protected characteristics, it is also now against the law not to treat you the same as everyone else if this treatment will put you at a disadvantage.

The Equality Act 2010 covers you at work and when you use services, such as shops, hotels or gyms, hospitals or other free services."  

This doesn't mean that other kinds or discrimination don't exist and aren't much different to bullying - picking on you for something about you, who you are or how you look, but they may not be specifically protected by law. To find out which is which and what to do, use the CAB Adviceguide on discrimination.

For unfair treatment which is not discrimination, see Bullying and you might find our section on your rights helpful. If the reason you are being picked on is something we've covered in GTRT's What's making it rough? check out the page for specialist organisations dealing with that situation.  

The Children's Rights Alliance for England explain what they are doing to help protect young people from being discriminated against because of their age. You can also find out more about your rights as a teenager. If it's happening at school and nothing is being done about it you need to tell someone.

ACAS can give you advice on employment issues - see their information on discrimination and equality or call their helpline.

The Citizens Advice Bureau will advise you on your rights and how the law may apply to your situation if you feel you are being discriminated against.

The Disability Law Service explains what discrimination means when it is against someone disabled (physically or mentally). You can get advice from their helpline.

Time to Change's mission is to encourage everyone to rethink mental health discrimination and remove stigma, encouraging young people and everyone else to talk more openly about their mental health.  

Peterborough Racial Equality Council for information, help and advice locally on racial discrimination and how to report a hate crime.

GTRT's page on sexual identity gives details of organisations dedicated to tackling homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation plus advice on how to act if it happens to you.

The page was last updated on 18 June 2014 by andrea.bateman.

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