Direct OR Indirect: That is the Question When it Comes to Discrimination!
Direct Discrimination is about an individual being treated differently or worse because of a protected Characteristic they possess. See Equality & Discrimination – Part 1 to refresh your knowledge on what defines a protected characteristic. It does not matter whether the person discriminating did know about a protected characteristic or not, the fact that an individual was treated less favourably or worse means they were directly discriminated against.
An employee would be discriminated against if they are treated less favourably or worse because:
- of who they are;
- of who someone thinks they are;
- of someone they are with or know
Just because an individual is treated differently due to a protected characteristic, does not always mean they have been unfairly discriminated against. An employee can sometimes be fairly discriminated against due to age for instance, if they are not legally allowed to do something such as drink alcohol under a certain age.
Indirect Discrimination is about a group of individuals (pool for comparison) being disadvantaged because of a set of policies, rules or procedures that are in place that affect them in an unfavourable or worse way in relation to the Protected Characteristics the group possesses. An employee can only claim indirect discrimination if they are directly disadvantaged or affected. They must also show that their “pool for comparison” has been adversely affected when compared to other groups.
Indirect Discrimination may not always be unlawful if it can be shown that there are good, sound reasons behind the policies, procedures or rules.