Discrimination in the provision of goods and services - victimisation

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

If you’re treated badly because you complain about discrimination, or you help someone who's been discriminated against, this is called victimisation. Victimisation is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.

If you’ve been treated badly because you complained, you may be able to do something about it.

Read this page to find out more about victimisation when you buy or receive goods and services.

Top tips

As well as being protected against discrimination, you have other rights under consumer law. If you’ve been treated unfairly but it doesn’t count as discrimination, there may be other ways of sorting out the problem.

See our consumer pages for more information.

What is victimisation?

The law which says you mustn’t be discriminated against is called the Equality Act 2010. Discrimination which is against the Equality Act is unlawful. This means you can take action in the civil courts.

Victimisation is when someone treats you badly because you complain about discrimination, or help someone who has been the victim of discrimination. Because the Equality Act recognises you may be worried about complaining, you have extra legal protection when you complain about discrimination.

When does the law protect you?

You’re protected against victimisation only if you do one of the following things:

  • make a claim or complaint of discrimination under the Equality Act

  • give evidence or information to help someone else who has made a complaint or claim under the Act

  • say that someone has done something unlawful under the Act.

The Equality Act calls these things protected acts.


Last week when you were at your local pub, one of the bar staff racially abused one of your friends. You complained to the manager about it and now he's barred you from the pub. This is unlawful under the Equality Act. You've been treated badly because you complained about harassment.


You helped your flatmate make a sexual harassment complaint against a sales assistant at your local DVD rental store. Recently when you tried to renew your membership you were told that a loyalty discount for existing members is no longer available. However, as you leave the store you hear the manager offer the same discount to another customer. This is victimisation and you could take action under the Act.

When are you not protected?

You’re not protected against victimisation if you act in bad faith by making false accusations, or if you give information which you know isn't true.

But you’re still protected if you give information which you thought was true even if it later proves to be wrong, or if the proceedings are unsuccessful.

Next steps

You can find more information about your consumer rights in the consumer section:

Other useful information

Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS)

If you have experienced discrimination, you can get help from the EASS discrimination helpline.

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

You can find useful information about discrimination on the EHRC website at

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