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SKU: 7.26
  • Advice

    What is race discrimination?

    The law protects employees from discrimination on account of their race. The term “race” captures several characteristics. These are:

    • Colour;
    • Ethnic origin (Jewish, Sikh etc);
    • National origin (The geographical area of your birthplace); and
    • Nationality (Typically a recognized state of which you are the citizen of).

    You must keep in mind the wide meaning of race to remain vigilant against the many forms of discrimination you may face.


    What race discrimination may look like

    The law recognizes four types of race discrimination:

    • Direct Discrimination;
    • Indirect Discrimination;
    • Harassment; and
    • Victimisation


    Direct Discrimination

    This can manifest in three distinct ways where you are treated less favourably because of your own race, the race of someone you are associated with or how your race is perceived.


    Indirect Discrimination

    To file a claim under this you must be able to prove that the policy leading to unfair treatment represents a disproportionate and unnecessary way of your employer achieving an intended outcome, such as a wholly Muslim or coloured workforce - this can be extremely difficult and not taken without legal advice.



    The law defines harassment as “unwanted conduct” which, in this case, must be related to race. For an act to qualify as harassment, it must also have the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual. It typically takes the form of bullying, nicknames, threats, jokes, gossip, inappropriate questions, insults or exclusion. You can also raise a complaint where you witness harassment and it has a negative impact on you or your working environment.



    Victimisation is when an employee is singled out for cruel and/or unjust treatment because they:

    • Made an allegation of discrimination;
    • Supported a complaint of discrimination;
    • Gave evidence relating to a complaint of discrimination;
    • Raised a concern over equality or discrimination; and/or
    • Did anything else that breached the Equality Act, including bringing an employment tribunal claim.


    Notably, victimisation can impact people who stood up for their colleagues and who suffered a detriment as a result, such as being labelled a troublemaker, being left out, or being denied training or promotion. As long as you bring an allegation for victimization in good faith, you will not face any negative consequences if your evidence turns out to be inaccurate or incomplete.

    Common areas where race discrimination occurs:

    • Recruitment;
    • pay and terms and conditions of employment;
    • promotion opportunities;
    • training opportunities; or
    • when an employee is dismissed.


    When is Discrimination Permittable

    There are instances where different treatment regarding a protected characteristic can be justifiable. However, a company must have an objective justification that covers and explains the need for particular policies. If they cannot prove that their practices, policies or rules are justifiable, these policies will count as indirect discrimination. 


    To rely on an objective justification defence, the employer, service provider, or organisation must demonstrate the validity of a policy or rule. In addition, it must be shown to be a proportionate method of achieving a legitimate goal. To prove objective justification:


    The aims must be a real, objective consideration and not in itself discriminatory. So, for example, if the objective is simply to reduce the organisation's costs and that discrimination saves more money, the aim will not be considered legitimate. The aim must have a proportionate means. For instance, does the goal outweigh the hardships incurred by discriminatory policies? There must be no sufficient alternative measures available if this is the case. The alternatives must be near impossible to commit to or undo the work of the aim for it to count as justifiable. 


    Occupational requirement

    Some care work may be limited to same sex carers for their patients, this is particularly relevant when the person needing care is a child or mentally vulnerable. Other situations would be recruitment that is ethnic specific, this would normally apply to services such as the police, prison service etc who are seeking to gain a more representative mix of ethnicities as their representatives.


    Positive Action

    Positive Action is a set of steps a workplace takes to combat the lack of diversity within a company. This is done to encourage people who have a protected characteristic to apply for particular jobs.

    This is done because; 

    • Those with a protected characteristic might have a different need;
    • Are disadvantaged in some form; or
    • Have a record of low participation and involvement. 

    Practices might be adopted to break barriers that might have stopped people with a protected characteristic from entering a particular industry.


    How we can help

    We would be delighted to act on your behalf to negotiate whether there has, in our experts opinion, been any discrimination made against you or your employment application, To gain our assistance you need to open a case, this is done by taking advantage of our free consultation service, activated by the link at the top of the page, should you wish to start a case the caseworker will send you the suitable payment link.


    Please note your caseworker can only give generic advice, their role is to prepare your details for handling by our legal team and to act as your point of contact, they will also issue you with your Password and PIN, these will be needed to log onto your client dashboard. From your dashboard you will be able to manage and view every aspect of your case, upload documents, images, files etc.


    Your legal team will carefully examine the employers policies/procedures on the matter and if there is an identified issue, we would seek to assist you in bringing about a fair solution by mediating between yourself and your employer. If a solution cannot be found then we would support you in lodging a claim via an employment tribunal. You should be conscious of the strict time constraints as discrimination claims must be brought to an Employment Tribunal within three months of the alleged discriminatory act. We do tend to find that employers tend to be significantly more responsive when you have taken steps to obtain professional legal advice.

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