Discrimination happens when someone puts you at a disadvantage. You should be able to go about your daily life as anyone else would expect to. If you cannot, it may be discrimination depending on the situation.
The most common types of discrimination in public and private services are:
direct discrimination, where someone treats you unfairly because of your impairment or condition
indirect discrimination, where a business has not considered your needs
discrimination by perception, where someone treats you in a certain way because they make assumptions about your impairment or condition.
The Equality Act does not automatically cover you because you have a long-term impairment or condition, unless you have cancer, HIV or multiple sclerosis.
It can be upsetting to feel at a disadvantage when you're going about your daily life. There are things you can do and people who can help if you feel discriminated against.
Raise your concern in person
If possible, it's best to raise your concern with a member of staff or manager when the problem happens. You may find that they can resolve it right away.
Remember that it's your right to ask for a reasonable adjustment. You can ask a member of staff to help you and then show them the problem. Telling them may help other people facing similar problems.
Generally, people are happy to help when you're calm and polite. If you're angry, wait until you feel calmer to raise your concern.
Ask for an email or postal address and contact number so you can follow up.
If you cannot raise your concern when the problem happens, record details of the incident or take a photo. This way, you can return in person another time or contact the company by phone or email to complain.
Warning Be careful with social media
Raise the issue with the provider first to give them the chance to fix the problem.
Social media can be a way of attracting attention. But it can do more harm than good, so be careful.
Follow up in writing
Follow up in writing as soon as possible and outline:
the date, time and place it happened
who you spoke to
how you feel about the matter
whether it's been resolved
Write 'without prejudice' at the top of your email or letter. This is a legal statement that means no one can use this against you in a court of law.
The Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) supports people affected by discrimination. Once you've followed the complaints procedure, the EASS can help you:
understand the law and your options
use a resolution or mediation service
find a legal service if you need to take the matter further
work out if you're entitled to legal aid
Contact the free EASS helpline on 0808 800 0082.
Take legal action
The legal process can be emotionally draining and take up a lot of your time. Think about your reasons before you decide to take the matter further. Ask close family and friends what they think too as you may need their support through it.
It's important to get legal advice about whether you can claim discrimination. You usually pay a court fee but can apply for a reduction if you receive benefits or are on a low income. A guardian or someone looking after your affairs may be able to file a complaint for you.