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Discrimination at work - evidence in a direct discrimination claim

This advice applies to Scotland

If you’ve been treated differently and worse by an employer and it’s because of who you are, it could be direct discrimination. Direct discrimination is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.

If you’ve been directly discriminated against, you may be able to make a discrimination claim in the employment tribunal.

This page explains about useful evidence if you want to make a direct discrimination claim.

Showing direct discrimination

You can challenge direct discrimination at work if it’s because of your:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage or civil partnership
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation.

The Equality Act calls these things protected characteristics.

Key points

If you want to take action about direct discrimination you need to show that you’ve been treated differently and worse than someone else because of your protected characteristic. The Equality Act says you’ve been treated less favourably.

In order to show you’ve been treated less favourably, you need to identify someone who’s been treated better than you, in the same or similar situation. The person you need to compare your treatment with is called a comparator.

Sometimes you may be able to identify one person to compare your treatment with. But sometimes you may need to look at how several people have been or would have been treated in the same situation to show direct discrimination.

Useful evidence

The following things are useful evidence if you want to make a direct discrimination claim:

  • a description of what happened in chronological order, when it happened, where it happened and who was there
  • a description of how people in your situation should normally be treated. Try to establish the reasons why you were treated differently to this - could there be other non-discriminatory reasons for your treatment?
  • examples of situations where other staff members have been treated more favourably than you in the same or similar circumstances. For each of them, find out as much as you can about how they were treated and why you think they were treated better.
  • information on the number of people who work in your department or team and how many are in the same position as you.

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)

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


Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) provides free and impartial information and advice on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law.

To talk to an adviser about your employment problem, call the Acas helpline on 0300 123 1100.

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