What is discrimination?

Discrimination is when someone is treated unfairly because of who they are or because of a protected characteristic such as age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership or pregnancy and maternity. Treating someone less favourably because of who they are is a form of direct discrimination however you don't have to have a protected characteristic to be discriminated against. If someone thinks you have a characteristic and treats you less favourably, that's a form of direct discrimination by perception.

Indirect discrimination is when a provision, criteria or practice is applied in the same way for everyone, but this has the effect of putting people sharing a protected characteristic at a disadvantage. It doesn’t matter if there was no intention to disadvantage that group. What matters is whether that action does disadvantage that group in some way. An example of this could be a dress-code or rules on appearance which might indirectly discriminate against individuals or groups of a particular religion, belief or gender.

Indirect discrimination applies to all protected characteristics other than pregnancy and maternity, although something that disadvantages pregnant women or new mothers may be indirect sex discrimination.

Immediate help

  • Are you in immediate danger? If you are in immediate danger or seriously injured, you can call 999.
  • Finding a safe space. If possible, try and find somewhere you feel safe. If this isn't possible and you are on campus you can call security on: 
    • 0208 223 5599 (Docklands)
    • 0208 223 4073 (Stratford)
    • 0208 223 7888 (USS)

  • Students and staff can report an incident using the Report and Support system. You can choose to do this anonymously or you can request support by filling in the form with your contact details.
  • Have an informal conversation with the Student Conduct Officer (studentconduct@uel.ac.uk) or a member of the Equality and Diversity Team (equality@uel.ac.uk)
  • You can speak to your manager, HR or the Employee Assistance Programme (0800 389 0285 or  https://healthassuredeap.co.uk ). Reports will be taken seriously and where appropriate action will be taken.
  • Citizens Advice Bureau for support and advice about discrimination at work.
You can find links to more UEL and external support services here.


  • Report and Support. Staff and students can report an incident anonymously using the University’s Report and Support system.
  • To the police. You can report a crime using the non-emergency number, 101.
  • Make a formal complaint using the University’s Dignity at Work and Study Policy

There are two ways you can tell us what happened