Editor's message: The Equality Act 2010 prohibits direct discrimination, indirect discrimination and victimisation because of the protected characteristic of marriage and civil partnership.
A person possesses the characteristic only if he or she is married or a civil partner. This means that single people, those who are living together but are not legally married or in a registered civil partnership, and those who are divorced or whose civil partnership has been dissolved, are not protected.
In the context of direct discrimination, the less favourable treatment required to establish discrimination must be because of the complainant's status and not anyone else's. As such, unlike most other forms of direct discrimination, direct marriage and civil partnership discrimination does not extend to claims based on perception or association.
Qian Mou, employment law editor
Updated to include information on Kratzer v R+V Allgemeine Versicherung, in which the ECJ held that a person who applies for a job with the sole purpose of making an application for compensation for discrimination is not covered by EU discrimination law.
The Court of Appeal has upheld the EAT decision that survivors' pensions do not have to take into account civil partners' pension benefits accrued before the introduction of civil partnerships on 5 December 2005.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal has held that the Equality Act 2010 does not breach EU law by denying a couple in a civil partnership accrual of benefits to which married couples were entitled under a pension scheme.
Additional information on the law on marriage and civil partnership discrimination for local authority employers, including the public sector equality duty. To be read in conjunction with the general information on the law on marriage and civil partnership discrimination.
The employment tribunal held that the Equality Act 2010 failed to provide the required protection under EU law for a couple in a civil partnership who were denied accrual of benefits to which married couples were entitled under a pension scheme.
In Hawkins v Atex Group Ltd and others EAT/0302/11, the EAT held that the dismissal of an employee because she was in a close personal relationship with a particular person, which happened to take the form of marriage, did not amount to unlawful marriage discrimination.
In Dunn v Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management EAT/0531/10, the EAT held that less favourable treatment accorded to an employee on the ground that she was married to a particular person, rather than because of her marital status per se, amounted to unlawful discrimination on the ground of marriage.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal has held that discrimination on the ground of "marital status" under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 can cover less favourable treatment because the individual is married to a particular person.
HR and legal information and guidance relating to marriage and civil partnership discrimination.