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Asylum Seeker

Someone who is fleeing persecution in their homeland, has arrived in another country, made them self known to the authorities and exercised their legal right to apply for asylum.


Shared rituals, symbols and ways of doing things that give a group its sense of identity.


A disabled person is described in the Equality Act 2010 as one who has a physical or mental impairment, which has substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

Direct Discrimination

Direct Discrimination occurs where a person treats another less favourably because of a protected characteristic than they treat, or would treat, others.

Indirect Discrimination

Indirect discrimination arises when an unjustifiable provision, criterion or practice is applied to everyone, but it places people with a protected characteristic at a particular disadvantage.

Positive Discrimination

It is unlawful to select someone solely on the grounds of their race, ethnicity, gender or disability.


Diversity is about recognising, valuing and taking account of people’s different backgrounds, knowledge, skills and experiences, and encouraging and using those differences to create a productive and effective educational community and workforce.

Economic Migrant

Someone who has moved to another country to work.


Treating people the same does not create equality of opportunity. Sometimes you have to treat people differently in the first instance in order to give them an equal opportunity to access all areas of life. This may require making specific adjustments in order to aid particular individuals.

Equality and Diversity (also known as Equal Opportunities) Monitoring

This is used to assess the effectiveness of an Equality Policy as well as recruitment and selection procedures. Employers have a responsibility to ensure equality of opportunity for all staff and monitoring is important in fulfilling this obligation.


A strict definition of an ethnic group is a group regarded as a distinct community by virtue of certain essential characteristics – a shared history which distinguishes it from other groups and a cultural tradition of its own. The expression “ethnic monitoring” is used in reference to groups defined by colour, race or national origin as well.

Ethnic Minority

A person or group of people who have a different culture, religion or language to the main one in the place or country they live.


The word ‘gender’ is often used in place of the word ‘sex’ in equality issues. ‘Gender’ does not appear in legislation (except for ‘gender re-assignment’ – see below) but ‘sex discrimination’ and ‘gender discrimination’ are generally interchangeable.

Gender Reassignment

Gender reassignment is a process undertaken under medical supervision for the purpose of reassigning a person’s sex by changing physiological or other characteristics of sex.

Genuine Occupational Requirements

The Sex Discrimination Act, Race Relations Act, Religion or Belief Regulations and the Sexual Orientation Regulations (now part of the Equality Act 2010) allow for circumstances where a person’s sex, racial group, religion or sexual orientation is a genuine requirement for a particular job.


Harassment is a form of direct discrimination. For example, behaviour which is unwelcome or unacceptable and which results in the creation of a stressful or intimidating environment for the victim amounts to harassment. It can consist of verbal abuse, racist jokes, insensitive comments, leering, physical contact, unwanted sexual advances, ridicule or isolation. Such behaviour can be persistent or an isolated incident towards one or more individuals.

Human Rights

Human rights are basic rights and freedoms which all humans are entitled too. They are things like the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law. To violate someone's human rights is to treat that person as though they were not a human being.

Illegal Immigrant

Someone who has arrived in another country intentionally not made themselves known to the authorities and has no legal basis for being there.


Pre-judging without having correct information, this can lead to unfair actions.

Positive Action

These are actions to encourage the under-represented into particular areas of activity. For example, females or males into non-traditional work or training.


Racism or being racist is the belief that a particular race is better than a different one. Behaviour can be based on assumptions relating to race.


Someone who asylum application has been successful and who is allowed to stay in another country having proved they would face persecution back home.


Sexism refers to behaviour that comes from the belief that because you are a particular gender you are better than someone who is a different gender.

Sexual Orientation

Whether a person is attracted to people of their own sex, the opposite sex or both sexes. Assumptions and perceptions of a person’s sexuality are also covered by law.


A stereotype is a simplified and fixed idea of how people belonging to a group behave and is usually based on opinion rather than evidence.


They can be percentages of underrepresented groups that employers or education providers aim to achieve in the make up of learners and/or their workforce as part of their equality action plan. It is unlawful to use a target as a reason for selecting someone, but it is not unlawful to take steps to get more qualified applicants from particular groups (see ‘Positive Action’).


See ‘Gender Reassignment’.

Vicarious Liability

Employers have legal liability for any act of discrimination (including harassment) carried out by their employees unless the employer can show that they have taken all reasonably practicable steps to prevent it.


If a person has made or is making an accusation of discrimination in good faith, it is unlawful to discriminate against them for having done so, or because they intend to do so or it is suspected that they intend to do so.

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