Race Discrimination

"Race" is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 and includes discrimination based on “colour, race, nationality and ethnic or national origins”.

There can be considerable overlap in the definition of “race” between colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin.  A person’s race could comprise various elements of each category.  For example, a person’s racial group could be a combination of colour and nationality, such as Black Nigerian. Alternatively, a British national may be of French origin and have a French name.  That person may identify as “British French”. 

There can also be an overlap between race and religious discrimination.  For example, a Sikh may be protected by virtue of being part of an ethnic group within the protected characteristic of race, but may also be protected by virtue of his or her religion, Sikhism.

If a worker is treated less favourably due to their race, their perceived race, or the race of someone with whomthey are associated, this may constitute unlawful direct discrimination.  The less favourable treatment could include a decision not to employ someone, to dismiss them, withhold promotion or training opportunities, offer worse terms and conditions or deny contractual benefits because of Race.

However, there is an exception to direct discrimination available to you as an employer, for “occupational requirements”, where being of a certain race is crucial to the job.

If a “provision, criterion or practice” is applied which puts a worker at a disadvantage because of rtheir race, this could constitute unlawful indirect discrimination.  For example, a requirement that a worker hold a degree from a British university could disadvantage those holding equivalent degrees from universities in Europe. You can seek to objectively justify any “provision, criterion or practice” by showing that there was, for example, a good business reason to apply it.

It is also possible to be harass or victimise a worker by reason of race.  In particular, harassment can include the use of racist nicknames, jokes, banter and bullying.

If you would like more detailed information about race discrimination, Ashby Cohen can help you. We specialise in employment law cases, and our years of experience as employment lawyers make us uniquely qualified to assist you with any race discrimination issues you may have. Please contact us for an initial free telephone consultation.

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