This advice applies to England. Change country
Getting information about your discrimination case
The law which says you mustn’t be discriminated against is called the Equality Act 2010. Discrimination which is against the Act is unlawful. If you’ve experienced unlawful discrimination, you can take action about it under the Act.
To help you decide if you've been discriminated against and what action to take about it, you can ask the person or organisation you think discriminated against you for information about what happened.
Read this page to find out about how to get information about the way you've been treated. This page doesn't cover discrimination in the workplace.
Why should you ask questions about the discrimination?
Asking questions about the unfair treatment may help you understand why you were treated in a certain way and whether it might be unlawful discrimination. It can also help you decide if you want to take action and what action you should take.
What questions should you ask?
You can ask any questions you think are useful to understand why the unfair treatment happened. It’s best to try and make the questions as specific as possible and not ask the person or organisation to provide large amounts of irrelevant information.
Guidance on asking and responding to questions
The government has produced guidance on Asking and responding to questions about discrimination in the provision of goods and services and public functions. The guidance also covers discrimination in housing and education.
The guidance sets out six steps you should follow to prepare for and seek information from the person or organisation you think may have discriminated against you. These are:
- step 1: set out your details and the details of the person or organisation you think discriminated against you
- step 2: identify the reason you’ve been discriminated against. The Equality Act sets out nine protected characteristics - for example, sex, race or disability. It’s only unlawful discrimination if you experience unfair treatment because of one of these characteristics.
- step 3: describe the unfair treatment - ask the person or organisation if they agree with your account of what happened and if not, why?
- step 4: if you can, identify the type of discrimination you’ve experienced - for example, direct discrimination or harassment
- step 5: try to explain why you think your treatment was unlawful - what did the person or organisation do or say which makes their behaviour unlawful under the Equality Act?
- step 6: set out any additional questions you would like answering to gather information - for example, statistical information or if they have any policies about equality and discrimination.
There is a template in Annex 1 of the guidance you can use to ask your questions.
- You can see the full Department for Culture, Media and Sport's guidance on Asking and responding to questions of discrimination in the provision of goods and services and public functions at www.gov.uk
- More about the protected characteristics
Sending your questions
It’s always best to try and sort out your problem informally first if possible. There is no specific time when you should send your questions to the the person or organisation you think discriminated against you, but it may be a good idea to wait until your make a formal complaint. If you have any specific questions about the discrimination you can raise these during an informal discussion with them first.
Make sure you:
- keep a copy of the questions form and any other correspondence you send to the person or organisation
- check they've received your questions.
If you send your questions by post, it’s best to send them by recorded delivery so you have evidence that they were received.
Ask the person or organisation to write back to you within a specified time period like 21 days.
Does the person or organisation have to answer your questions?
The person or organisation you think discriminated against you doesn't have to answer your questions. But if they don’t answer your questions, the tribunal may be able take this into account when making a decision on whether you’ve been unlawfully discriminated against.
If you want to go to court
There are strict time limits for going to court. You need to make your claim within 6 months less one day of the discrimination happening. If you’re waiting for the person or organisation to respond to your questions, you need to keep this time limit in mind so you don’t run out of time for making your claim. If you're getting close to the time limit, it's best to make your claim even if you haven't had a response back.
If you want to make a claim about discrimination at work, the time limit is 3 months.
Other useful information
Asking and responding to questions of discrimination in the provision of goods and services and public functions
- For a copy of the guidance go to www.gov.uk
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