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Diversity and Discrimination

If you think you have been treated unfairly or have been discriminated against because of your age, gender, race, religion or beliefs, disability, or sexual orientation, there's a wide range of legislation, information and contacts to help you understand and enforce your rights.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission

EHRC helpline

England: 0845 604 6610

Scotland: 0845 604 5510

Wales: 0845 604 8810

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has been established to promote equality and to tackle and eliminate discrimination in relation to gender, gender reassignment, religion, belief, disability, sexual orientation, age or race, and to promote human rights.

The EHRC has taken on the work of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) and the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), aiming to build on the achievements and advances of the previous individual commissions. The commission covers England, Scotland and Wales and has statutory committees in Scotland and Wales, which carry out its work.

The EHRC also provides information and guidance on discrimination and your rights in specific settings. The advice covers the following areas:

  • health and social care
  • housing and property
  • justice and the legal system
  • learning and training
  • shops and services
  • transport working and earning

For help and advice, call the EHRC helpline. Calls to 0845 numbers are charged at local call rate if you are using a BT landline. Charges from other operators and from mobiles will vary - check with your provider to find out how much you will be paying.

Discrimination and your rights

The EHRC is responsible for upholding the rights of individuals and tackling instances of discrimination. The organisation Community Legal Advice has produced a leaflet that provides guidance on your rights and how you can challenge discrimination.

Sex and gender equality

Unlawful sex discrimination is when someone is treated unfairly because of their gender. Women, men and transsexual people can all experience sex discrimination. Sex discrimination also includes treating someone less favourably because they are married or in a civil partnership - for example, by not hiring married women.

The EHRC website provides expert advice for both individuals and employers, and provides practical guidance and legal information. If you believe you have been unfairly treated at work, in education, or by anyone providing a service - and you think it is because you are a woman, or because you are a man - you can contact the commission's confidential helpline for advice.

Gender recognition

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 came into effect in April 2005. It gives transsexual people legal recognition in their acquired gender, following their application to the Gender Recognition Panel. Transsexual people are also able to marry in their acquired gender, once their change of gender is legally recognised.

The Gender Recognition Panel has a website containing information and advice for transsexual people who wish to apply for gender recognition.

Race equality

The Race Relations Act protects individuals from racial discrimination and harassment and creates a right to challenge discrimination in the courts or at an employment tribunal. It is unlawful for a person to discriminate against another person on racial grounds - this means race, colour, nationality, or ethnic or national origins.

The Act also makes racial discrimination by public bodies and organisations illegal and requires them to have policies to promote racial equality. The EHRC provides information and advice to people who believe they have suffered racial discrimination or harassment. They work with public bodies, businesses and organisations from all sectors to promote policies and practices that help to ensure equal treatment for everyone.

The commission's website can provide you with more information about race discrimination, your legal rights and what to do if you are being discriminated against.

Disability rights

The 'Disabled people' section of Directgov provides information on rights under the Disability Discrimination Act, definitions of 'disability' and on general rights of access to goods and services.

The EHRC gives advice and information to disabled people, education providers, employers and service providers, and supports disabled people in getting their rights under the law. The organisation also supports legal cases to test the limits of the law and provides an independent conciliation service for disabled people and service providers. Advisers on the EHRC helpline will be able to tell you if your case is suitable for conciliation.

Age rights and discrimination

Unlawful age discrimination is when someone is treated unfavourably because of their age, without justification, or is harassed or victimised because of their age.

The EHRC website provides information and advice on issues around age discrimination, including what your rights are and what you can do if you are being discriminated against.

There is also further information about age discrimination legislation in the employment section and the pensions and retirement planning section of Directgov

Sexual orientation and discrimination

The EHRC provides information and advice in relation to discrimination due to an individual's sexual orientation, or perceived orientation, or the sexual orientation of those they associate with. A guide has been produced by Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) for employers and employees on sexual orientation in the workplace.

Further information

The EHRC helpline provides information and guidance on discrimination and human rights issues. All of the helpline staff have been trained to provide this service.

You can also contact the commission by letter, email or fax. Follow the link below for contact details. If you contact the commission by post, don't send any documents with your letter - someone will contact you to let you know what you need to send.

If you would like to contact the EHRC in a language other than English, you can do so using any of the methods already mentioned and someone will arrange to contact you in your language of choice.

The offices do not accept visitors as they do not provide face-to-face advice. The addresses provided are for letters only.