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Equality and Diversity- Perception Discrimination

As an employer and training provider, RM Training UK Ltd values and recognises the social and cultural diversity in our communities and aims to provide conditions that encourage everyone to participate in learning, actively combat harassment and help to ensure people are treated with dignity. We endeavour to protect all our staff and learners from all forms of unlawful, unfair and/or unjust discrimination because of sex, race, disability, age, religion or belief, sexual orientation, material or civil partnership status, pregnancy, or maternity, gender reassignment and part-time or fixed-term employment status.

We are committed to creating opportunities for all and allowing all learners to reach their full potential in an environment characterised by dignity and mutual respect.

The Equality Act 2010 sets out the different ways in which it is unlawful to treat someone, such as direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, victimisation and failing to make a reasonable adjustment for a disabled person. 

The Equality Act became law in October 2010. It replaces previous legislation (such as the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) and ensures consistency in what you need to do to make your workplace a fair environment and to comply with the law. 

It is unlawful to discriminate against someone on the basis of one of the nine protected characteristics listed in the Equality Act 2010. These are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. The Act also describes the various forms of unlawful discrimination – some of which apply to all the protected characteristics (such as direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation), and some of which only apply to specific protected characteristics, such as failing to make reasonable adjustments for a disabled employee. Someone is directly discriminated against when they are treated less favourably by their employer because of a protected characteristic.

Discrimination by Perception

You don’t necessarily need to have a protected characteristic in order to be directly discriminated against because of it.

This applies to two forms of discrimination:

  • discrimination by association (or ‘associative discrimination’); and
  • discrimination by perception (or ‘perceptive discrimination’).

What is perceptive discrimination?

The wide definition of direct discrimination also encompasses discrimination by perception. When someone is treated less favourably because others believe they have a protected characteristic, even though in reality they don’t have it, it is perceptive discrimination.

For example, this might occur in the following ways:

  • An employer rejects a job application form from a white woman whom it wrongly thinks is black because the applicant has an African-sounding name; or
  • An employer rejects a masculine-looking female job applicant who performs best at the interview because, due to her appearance, it wrongly believes she is transgender.

These examples could be considered discrimination by perception, regardless of whether the job applicants really were of African descent or transgender. Like associative discrimination, perceptive discrimination does not apply to the protected characteristic of marriage and civil partnership, nor pregnancy and maternity, and it must be in the form of direct discrimination.