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Discrimination in health and care services - victimisation

This advice applies to Scotland

If you’re treated badly because you complain about discrimination or you help someone who has been discriminated against, this is called victimisation. Victimisation is against 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 receive health and care services.

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
  • do any other thing which is related to the Act
  • say that someone has done something unlawful under the Act.

The Equality Act calls these things protected acts.

Example

You help a friend with his discrimination complaint against your dental practice. Shortly after this your dentist tells you they can’t see you as a patient anymore. You believe this is because you helped your friend with his complaint. This is likely to be victimisation and is unlawful under the Equality Act.

When are you not protected?

You’re not protected against victimisation if you act in bad faith by making false accusations or by giving false information.

Example

You make false accusations of discrimination against a care home worker because you don’t like her and don’t want her to look after you. If she treats you less well  because of this, it wouldn’t be victimisation as you acted in bad faith.

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

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)

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