Suppose a shop commits unlawful discrimination by selling products to only one race or only one sex, and a court rules that this constitutes direct unlawful discrimination. Now suppose that a website practises the same policy, with respect to the same product, only online, perhaps by requiring customers to tick a declaration that they belong to X or Y gender or race. Is there any reason why a court may rule differently with respect to the online vendor, simply because the discrimination is committed online? I can imagine that quantum may be less for damages, as one would suffer the discrimination in private without the aggravating factor of public humiliation likely in front of other members of the public. But apart from this, are there any otherlegal differences between discrimination committed online and in brick and mortar venues?

  • 4
    I can't answer for england, but the anti-discrimination laws I know of are irrespective of the kind of contract.
    – PMF
    Jan 15, 2023 at 18:42
  • It would be pretty silly to do so because screenshots would provide clear evidence against them, as well as an opportunity to completely avoid the discrimination by simply checking the favored box. Jan 16, 2023 at 16:24

1 Answer 1


Do anti discrimination provisions apply to online as well as brick and mortar retail vendors?


There is nothing in the Equality Act 2010 in general - nor in the definitions of Prohibited Conduct found within Part 2, Chapter 2 in particular - that excludes, exempts or otherwise makes allowances for unlawful discrimination according to what business model is being used.

This view is supported by Citizens Advice who say that...

The Equality Act says you mustn’t be discriminated against when you buy or receive goods, in many different places including:

  • shops, supermarkets, market stalls or charity shops

  • at an auction

  • by telephone or online

  • by catalogue or through doorstep sales.

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