Racial Discrimination Solicitors

Our employment law team have considerable experience in advising employees on the law relating to race discrimination, including unfair treatment, harassment and victimisation. In some cases, an obvious comment, which has been witnessed, may lead to a claim. But discrimination is often more subtle and difficult to prove. Therefore, advice should be sought from specialist solicitors in this area.

IBB Solicitor’s employment law team can provide clear, practical guidance on all areas of unlawful discrimination. Our team includes some of the region’s top ranked employment lawyers with decades of experience representing employees of all levels.

For race discrimination advice and representation, please contact our experienced employment solicitors today on 03456 381381 or email your details to employmentlaw4you@ibblaw.co.uk.

What is race discrimination?

The Equality Act 2010 (EqA) prohibits discrimination against individuals in the areas of employment, education, and the provision of goods, facilities and services for a protected characteristic (i.e. age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation).

Whether you are an employee, a worker (engaged under a contract personally to execute work or labour), or a contractor (whose labour is supplied by your employer to another person) you are legally protected. You have rights whatever your length of service and whatever hours you work.

Race is defined in the EqA as including colour, nationality, or ethnic or national origins. There is scope for arguing that factors other than colour, nationality, ethnic origin and national origin are covered, such as caste.

The EqA outlaws discrimination in all public authority functions not covered by the EqA, with only limited exceptions. There is a general duty on specified public authorities to work towards the elimination of unlawful discrimination and to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups in carrying out their functions. The general duty is supported by specific duties, which are only enforceable by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Legal protection against race discrimination applies even if some of the work is to be done outside Great Britain but will not apply if the work is to be done wholly outside Great Britain. It applies before, during and after employment.

What is direct race discrimination?

Direct race discrimination occurs where because of your race, you are treated less favourably than another person who is not the same race as you.

Less favourable treatment means a detriment of a kind that a reasonable person would or might take the view that in all the circumstances you have been disadvantaged.  An unjustified sense of grievance cannot amount to a detriment.  It is not necessary to demonstrate some physical or economic consequence.

For example:

  • an employer rejects an American job applicant because it does not like USA, even though she is the best candidate for the job, this will be direct race discrimination.

In claiming direct age discrimination, you will need to prove that you have been treated less favourably than a real or hypothetical comparator whose circumstances are not materially different to yours.

The appropriate test requires an employment tribunal to consider the reason why you were treated less favourably: what was your employer’s conscious or subconscious reason for the treatment?

For the purposes of establishing direct race discrimination, it does not matter whether you have the protected characteristic in question it can be perceived race.  Nor does it matter whether you have the race in question it can be by association.

For example:

  • an employer treats an individual less favourably because it perceives that the employee is of a certain race e.g. the employer thinks that the employee is Welsh when he is actually English
  • an employer treats an individual less favourably because of the race of someone with whom the employee associates e.g. because the employee’s wife is Scottish.

Racial segregating is specifically prohibited under the EqA. There is no need to identify a comparator. The segregation must, however, be a deliberate act rather than a situation that has occurred inadvertently.

For example:

  • a British marketing company which employs predominantly British staff recruits Irish nationals and seats them in a separate room nicknamed ‘Little Ireland’.

Direct discrimination cannot be objectively justified.

What is indirect race discrimination?

Indirect race discrimination occurs where:

  • your employer applies to you a provision criterion or practice (PCP)
  • you are of a particular racial group
  • your employer applies (or would apply) that PCP to persons not of the same racial groupas you
  • the PCP puts or would put your racial group at a particular disadvantage when compared to other persons not of your racial group
  • your employer cannot justify the PCP by showing it to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Racial group means a group of persons defined by reference to colour, race, nationality, or ethnic or national origins.

There will be no indirect discrimination if your employer’s actions are justified.  To establish justification, your employer will need to show that there is a legitimate aim (i.e. a real business need) and that the PCP is proportionate to that aim.  Justification must be on objective grounds with an objective balance between the discriminatory effect and the reasonable needs of your employer.

In other words, indirect race discrimination occurs where your employment is subject to an unjustified condition which because of your particular age or age group, you find more difficult to meet.

For example:

  • a requirement for GCSE English as a selection criterion. This would have disproportionate adverse impact on people educated overseas and may not be justified if all that is needed is to demonstrate a reasonable level of literacy; or
  • a requirement that all males have no facial hair. This would have a disproportionate adverse impact on Sikhs who traditionally do not cut their hair.

In determining whether there has been a detriment, it will be necessary to establish a pool of people for comparison on a like-for-like basis of those that have and have not been affected by the PCP.

What is racial harassment?

Harassment occurs for a reason related to your race if the conduct is unwanted and has the purpose or effect of:

  • violating the person’s dignity or
  • creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

Harassment will also occur where you submitted to or rejected harassment related to your race because of your rejection of or submission to the conduct, your employer treats you less favourably than it would treat another person if that person had not rejected or submitted to the conduct.

Such conduct will only amount to harassment if in all the circumstances, your perception of the conduct, is reasonably considered to have that purpose or effect.

Your employer will be able to avoid liability for harassment if it can show it took reasonably practical steps to prevent it happening.

What is victimisation?

Victimisation occurs where you are treated less favourably than another person whose circumstances are the same because you:

  • brought claim under the EqA
  • gave evidence or information in connection with a claim under the EqA
  • did any other thing for the purposes of or in connection with the EqA
  • alleged that your employer or another person has committed an act that contravenes the EqA.

Less favourable treatment means a detriment (see above).

What remedies are available for race discrimination?

If you are an employee, worker or job applicant who believes your employer (or another worker) has discriminated against you then you can bring an employment tribunal claim.

If you who believe that an organisation has discriminated against you in the provision of goods, facilities and services, you can bring a claim in the county court.

Tribunals and courts can award unlimited compensation, which can include an award for injury to feeling and financial losses because of the discrimination.

How long do you have to bring an employment tribunal claim?

An employment tribunal claim under the EqA relating to race discrimination must be received by a tribunal within 3 months of the complaining act (i.e. 3 months less 1 day).  This can be the last act in a series of detrimental acts over a period of time.  The time limit is a strict one and will only be extended in certain circumstances.

The time limit can be extended during Acas early conciliation, which must be started before the time limit has expired.

Please see our page Acas early conciliation.

Contact our specialist race discrimination solicitors today

IBB Solicitor’s employment law specialists represent individuals at all levels no matter the size or sector of the company. If you feel that you have been subjected to unlawful discrimination, we can offer fast, reliable guidance on what to do.

Contact our specialist race discrimination solicitors today on 03456 381381 or email your details to employmentlaw4you@ibblaw.co.uk.


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