Dealing with discrimination when using a service

Advice and Guidance

Who is this page for?

  • Individuals using a service

Which countries is it relevant to?

    • England flag icon


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    • Scotland flag icon


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    • Wales flag icon


What to do if you believe you've been discriminated against

If you believe someone has unlawfully discriminated against you, harassed or victimised you in relation to the goods, facilities or services, or public functions they provide, or an association they run, what can you do about it?

This part of this guide:

  • tells you what your choices are
  • suggests how you can decide if what happened was against equality law
  • suggests ways you might be able to sort out the situation with the person or organisation directly
  • tells you where to find information about what is called alternative dispute resolution (asking someone else, but not a court, to sort out the situation)
  • explains the questions procedure, which you can use to find out more information from a person or organisation if you believe you may have been unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised
  • explains some key points about court procedures in discrimination cases relating to claims outside the workplace:
  • where claims are brought
  • time limits for making a claim
  • the standard and burden of proof
  • what the court can order a person or organisation to do
  • tells you where to find out more about making a claim in court.

Your choices

There are three things you can do:

  • Complain directly to the person or organisation.
  • Use someone else to help you sort it out (alternative dispute resolution).
  • Make a claim in court.

You do not have to choose only one of these. Instead, you could try them in turn. If the first does not work, you could try the second, and if that is also unsuccessful, you could make a claim in court.

Just be aware that if you do decide to make a claim in court, you need to tell the court about your claim (by filling in a form and paying a fee) within six months of what happened.

You do not have to go first to the person or organisation you believe discriminated against you or harassed or victimised you or to anyone else before making a claim in court.

You can, if you want to, make a claim in court straight away. But do think carefully about whether making a claim in court is the right course of action for you.

Making a claim may be demanding on your time and emotions, and before starting the process you may want to look at whether or not you have a good chance of succeeding. You may also want to see if there are better ways of sorting out your complaint. 

Last updated: 22 Mar 2023

Further information

If you think you might have been treated unfairly and want further advice, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service.

Phone: 0808 800 0082

You can email using the contact form on the EASS website.

Also available through the website are BSL interpretation, web chat services and a contact us form.


Opening hours:

9am to 7pm Monday to Friday
10am to 2pm Saturday
closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays

Alternatively, you can visit our advice and guidance page.