Equality in Law

A description of UK legislation regarding equality and inequality in the workplace and everyday life. 

Table of contents

Equality Law [edit]

UK law regarding equality, diversity and inclusion

Note that these laws extend far beyond work. They are presented here in a work or organisational context but the laws apply anywhere. 

Types of Discrimination

It is against the law to discriminate against any person due to his/her:

  • age (also referred to as 'ageism')
  • gender/sexuality/sexual orientation (for example a male, female or transexual, or transitioning)
  • marital status (married, single or in a civil partnership)
  • pregnancy (or having/expecting/wanting a child)
  • disability (physical or mental)
  • race (colour [US color], nationality, ethnicity, national origin)
  • religion (belief, atheism [lack of religion/belief] spiritual preferences)

These aspects of human diversity are called (in UK law) 'protected characteristics'.

Equality law protects people from discrimination against such characteristics when/in/seeking:

  • work/employment
  • education
  • as a consumer
  • member/guest of private club/association
  • using public services
  • buying/renting property
  • with/helping someone of protected characteristic (for example, family member/friend, or you've complained about discrimination, or supported another person's claim - this is called in law 'positive action', which is judged to be legal where a person of a protected characteristic has particular needs, is disadvantaged and under-represented)