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Religion or belief discrimination

Updating author: Tina McKevitt


  • Religion or belief is a "protected characteristic" under the Equality Act 2010. (See Meaning of religion or belief)
  • As well as being liable for its own actions, there are circumstances in which an employer will be liable for the acts of others. (See Who is liable?)
  • The Equality Act 2010 prohibits direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, victimisation and harassment. (See Prohibited conduct)
  • Direct discrimination is where, because of the protected characteristic of religion or belief, a person treats another person less favourably than that person treats or would treat other persons. (See Direct discrimination)
  • Indirect discrimination occurs where a "provision, criterion or practice" puts persons who share the same religion or belief at a "particular disadvantage". Under the Equality Act 2010, it is possible for employers to justify indirect discrimination. (See Indirect discrimination and Justification)
  • Harassment is unwanted conduct related to an individual's religion or belief that has the purpose or effect of violating their dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual. (See Harassment)
  • Victimisation occurs when a person is subjected to a detriment because they did a protected act. (See Victimisation)
  • There are some exceptions from religion or belief discrimination. (See Occupational requirements and Other exceptions)
  • There are special provisions in the Employment Act 1989 relating to Sikhs and the wearing of safety helmets in workplaces. (See Sikhs and the wearing of safety helmets)
  • Adaptations to various aspects of working life may be required to accommodate religious observance. (See Accommodating and respecting religious observance)
  • The Equality Act 2010 provides no defence to other forms of unlawful discrimination motivated by religion or belief. (See Conflict of rights)