Discrimination

The law provides protection against discrimination or harassment. Anti-discrimination policies in your place of learning or workplace provide further protection. Know your rights, and your responsibilities.
A woman in a wheelchair sits at an office desk

According to the Citizens Advice Bureau, discrimination is the eighth most common problem people would like advice on. Discrimination or harassment of anyone because of their sex, race, religion, sexual orientation or disability is against the law.

Special educational needs and disability: The local offer

This page is suitable for all readers, but also part of the Oxfordshire Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Local Offer which collects together information, services and support for children and young people in Oxfordshire with special educational needs and disabilities and their families.

The law protects you from discrimination, but also requires you not to discriminate against others. Your place of learning or workplace will have policies to support this.

Find out more about discrimination, your rights and the protected characteristics in this video from ACAS.

Discrimination and protected characteristics at work

Sex, sexual orientation, gender status & sexuality

Under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 it is unlawful to:

  • treat one sex more favourably than the other in work, training, education, adverts, housing, and providing goods and services
  • discriminate against a transsexual person in work or vocational training

Since 2003 it has been illegal for employers to discriminate against someone because of their sexuality. Workers are protected from direct and indirect discrimination, victimisation and harassment.

Crucial: Some kinds of jobs (for example those in single sex environments, or certain kinds of support workers) can be offered only to men (or women). The employer has to prove this a genuine occupational requirement. 

Race & religion

Discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnic origin, religion or lack of religion is unlawful. Discrimination can be direct, for example nasty comments or refusing someone a promotion. But it can also be indirect, for example refusing time off for religious observance, or having dress codes that are against someone's cultural or religious beliefs.

Take Action: Anyone who sees discrimination at work can intervene to stop it from happening, as long as it is safe to do so. But you need to be fair to everyone. Find out more about tackling race hate incidents in the workplace from ACAS..

Disability

It is against the law to discriminate against people because of their disability or health condition. This includes mental health conditions. Disabled people also have a legal right to help and services from their local authority and "reasonable adjustments" from their place of study or work.

You can request that your local council finds out what adaptations you need at home. If they agree that you need services they must provide them. Find out more about the support available.

You have a right to be educated in mainstream schools with appropriate support and equipment. Find out how to access educational support through the Council.

Experience: ‘I'm visually impaired and my advice to anybody with a disability is to know your rights. You have to go out and find these things. The best way is to join a support group. There are groups for nearly every problem. I'm a member of Look, which helps young people who are visually impaired. I've had lots of problems at school. I wasn't allowed to do a geography A-level and they tried to limit me to two A levels. If you know you can do something you really have to push for it. Look came and made a good case, saying I needed everything on tape and proper help. They have expert knowledge so they can put forward a good argument. They helped convince the Education Authority and I managed to do 3 A2 levels and get into university. — Katherine, 18

When applying for a job, people must not be discriminated against because of their disability. Find out more about disability and working.

Your local offer belongs to you!

The Local Offer explains support available to children and young people with special educational needs and disability, and to their families. WE hope you found this page helpful. If you would like anything changed, updated or added, please use this online form.

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