What Are Direct and Indirect Discrimination?


Quick Answer

Direct discrimination is when a person treats another in an unfair or unfavorable way because of specific personal characteristics, such as gender, age, ethnicity, nationality, religion or political views. Direct discrimination is often straightforward. Indirect discrimination is the design and implementation of practices, policies or rules which seem fair because they apply to all people but cause some people to be treated unfairly. Indirect discrimination is not obvious.

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Full Answer

Direct discrimination happens because of the unfair stereotypes or assumptions which people develop against a specific person or group. An example of direct discrimination is refusing to hire aged people because of an assumption that they are not capable of learning new skills. Indirect discrimination occurs when specific conditions are unreasonable or unfairly disadvantageous to others. An example of indirect discrimination is a workplace policy that requires employees to work night shifts, without considering the needs of workers who have caring responsibilities. Discrimination can also take the form of harassment or victimization.

The law protects all people from all forms of discrimination, such as denial of education and health care services, biased recruitment, unfavorable working conditions and unfair dismissal. Examples of legislation that protects people from discrimination include the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Violence Against Women Act.

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