Not all service perceived as poor or inadequate constitutes the prohibited discrimination referred to by the Equality Act and the Non-discrimination Act. To be discrimination, the less favourable treatment must be based on one or more of the discriminatory grounds prohibited by law.
Direct discrimination refers to a situation in which a person is treated less favourably than another person in a similar situation due to one or more of their personal characteristics, without a justification accepted by law. For example, the refusal to provide service because of the colour of a person’s skin would be direct discrimination.
The law also prohibits indirect discrimination and harassment
Indirect discrimination refers to a situation where seemingly objective and equal treatment or conduct leads to a discriminatory outcome. Indirect discrimination may include a physically inaccessible environment that prevents wheelchair users from accessing a space that is allegedly open to all. Indirect discrimination can also be unintentional.
Harassment is a behaviour that creates a degrading, humiliating, threatening, hostile or offensive environment related to the grounds of discrimination prohibited by the Equality and Non-Discrimination Acts. This may include racist or sexist jokes.
Follow these steps if you suspect that you have experienced discrimination or harassment in our services
Inform the employee directly
Each of our employees has a duty to act without discrimination and to treat the customer with respect, regardless of their personal characteristics. Employees are also obliged to intervene in any discrimination or harassment they observe. You can point out the discrimination or harassment directly to the employee of the service.
You can give us feedback afterwards through many different channels – for example, by visiting or calling the customer service point of the service in question. You can also give us feedback through the feedback service (Link leads to external service). Do not include sensitive information in your message – instead, ask to be contacted for reasons of discrimination or harassment. Remember to mention which service or office the situation was related to so that the feedback is directed correctly.
Contact the Ombudsman
If the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction, you can contact the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman (Link leads to external service) or the Ombudsman for Equality (Link leads to external service). They will assess whether there is discrimination and guide you if necessary.