Share this page
Types of Discrimination
Discrimination can take multiple forms - ageism, sexism, racism are just a few examples - all will be discussed in this article, and how you can work to prevent all from occurring in the workplace.
Table of contents
Types of Discrimination 
Discrimination can happen in different ways, typically defined as, (notwithstanding reasonable justification):
- direct discrimination - treating someone (with a protected characteristic) less well than others
- indirect discrimination - making a rule/arrangement that applies generally, but is unfairly disadvantageous to a person of a protected characteristic
- harassment - an action which undermines dignity or produces a hostile environment for a person of a protected characteristic
- victimization - treating someone unfairly because they've complained about discrimination or harassment
* N.B. 'Reasonable justification' may ultimately be determined by the legal process.
The law protects people from discrimination at work, notably concerning (and notwithstanding reasonable exceptions*):
- employment contracts/conditions
* N.B. 'Reasonable exceptions' may ultimately be determined by the legal process.
A disability is basically defined as:
'A physical or mental impairment with substantial long-term [a year or more] negative effect on a person's ability to do normal daily activities'.
Employers must make 'reasonable adjustments' to help disabled employees and job-applicants with:
- forms - application forms, etc (Braille/audio formats, etc)
- tests - aptitude/psychometrics, etc (adjusting times/types of tests accordingly, etc)
- dismissal/redundancy (necessary allowances)
- discipline/grievances (necessary allowances)
- interviews (physical access, communication help, etc)
- facilities/equipment (ensure appropriate)
- career development - promotion, transfer and training opportunities (ensure fair)
- pay/terms - employment contract, bonuses (ensure fair)
- work-related benefits (fair access to recreation/refreshments, etc)
N.B. There are some other types of unlawful discrimination which fall outside of equality laws, for example on basis of trade union membership.
These laws are explained in detail (UK) at the ACAS website (ACAS is the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service - a public agency body of the UK Government).