Portfolio project

36 wide-ranging digital factsheets

What is the Equality Act 2010? 

The Equality Act 2010 is the law that bans discrimination (unfair treatment) and helps achieve equal opportunities in the workplace and in wider society. 

Before the Equality Act, disability discrimination came under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA). 

The Equality Act protects people from discrimination because of certain ‘protected characteristics’. It also promotes equality of opportunity to prevent discrimination arising. 

The nine protected characteristics are: 

  • age 
  • disability 
  • gender reassignment 
  • marriage and civil partnership 
  • pregnancy and maternity 
  • race 
  • religion and belief 
  • sex 
  • sexual orientation. 

The Equality Act applies to England, Wales and Scotland but not Northern Ireland, where the DDA still applies. If you live in Northern Ireland, visit the NI Direct website to find out more: nidirect.gov.uk/information-and-services/ people-disabilities/rights-and-obligations 

Am I protected under the Equality Act? 

You may have rights in relation to any of the nine protected characteristics, but this factsheet focuses on how the Equality Act affects people with a disability. 

The Equality Act covers people who have, or have previously had, a disability. 

A disability under the Equality Act is a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse (negative) effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. 

In certain situations, the Equality Act also protects people who are discriminated against because of their association with someone who has a disability or because they are mistakenly thought to be disabled. 

• To find out more, see our factsheet How does the Equality Act define ‘disability’?

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Brian Gerard Burns

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