Discrimination is when a person or group of people are treated less favourably than others based on a relevant or perceived protected characteristic. The Open University has broadened the characteristics to include age, caring for dependants, disability, experience of being in care, gender reassignment (including gender, gender expression, gender identity), marital or civil partnership status, membership of the Traveller community, political opinion, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, trades union membership status, and type of employment contract, such as part-time or full-time (for Open University employees only).
There are different types of discrimination:
Direct discrimination – treating someone with a protected characteristic or different circumstances less favourably than others.
Indirect discrimination – putting rules or arrangements in place that apply to everyone, but that put someone with a protected characteristic or different circumstances at an unfair disadvantage.
Associative discrimination – can occur when someone is treated less favourably because of their association with another person who has a protected characteristic or different circumstances, for example, if a person has a relationship with a disabled person.