Most employers will understand that discrimination is a term used to describe unfair treatment based on one of nine protected characteristics laid down in the Equality Act 2010. However, discrimination can take many forms, including discrimination by perception. Our guide details what this is about and how your business can avoid breaking current UK laws.
What does discrimination by perception mean?It’s when an employee (or job candidate) receives unfavourable treatment as others believe they possess a protected characteristic—even though they don't. This is also referred to as perceptive discrimination.
How does it work?Despite not possessing a protected characteristic, those who do suffer unfavourable treatment may claim direct discrimination by perception. However, the protected characteristics of pregnancy and maternity, as well as marriage and civil partnerships receive exclusion from this. Some discrimination by perception examples include:
- Refusing to hire someone with an Arabic name because you wrongly assume they’re Muslim.
- Bullying a heterosexual employee for being a homosexual because they appear camp at work.
- Failing to promote a member of staff because you wrongly believe they have a disability.
- Where a business rejects a job application from a white man a manager thinks is black due to the sound of their name.
- If an employer rejects a female job candidate