Race discrimination remains an issue in many workplaces in the United Kingdom. Not only does it impact things like productivity and morale among employees, but it can have a significant impact on the lives of those being discriminated against. Recognising, addressing and eliminating race discrimination is therefore crucial to creating an inclusive work environment where employees feel valued, respected and safe.
When experiencing discrimination in the workplace, many employees are not aware of how to proceed with resolving the issue. ‘Race’ is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 (EqA), therefore when race discrimination occurs, employees have legal rights to make a claim and get the compensation they deserve.
Below our race discrimination team have put together some information to guide you through identifying, reporting and resolving race discrimination in the workplace.
Identifying Race Discrimination in the Workplace
Race discrimination involves treating someone unfairly because of their actual or perceived race. It also covers unfair treatment because of an association with someone else. The definition of ‘race’ in the EqA covers colour, nationality and ethnic or national origin, and discrimination can occur in several different ways.
Discriminatory behaviour will fall into different categories;
- Direct Discrimination – Direct discrimination is the most obvious type of race discrimination in the workplace and it is when an employee is treated less favourably because of their race. A common example of direct race discrimination is a qualified candidate not getting a job because of their race or an experienced employee being denied a promotion because of their race.
- Indirect Discrimination – This type of discrimination can be harder to identify, but it is still protected under the EqA. Indirect race discrimination happens when a policy, criterion or practice puts employees of a particular racial group or ethnic group at a disadvantage compared to other employees. For instance, requiring all employees to wear a uniform may disadvantage individuals whose cultural practices involve wearing certain pieces of clothing. If the policy is not objectively justifiable, it is discriminatory.
- Harassment – Any unwanted conduct that is motivated by race can be considered race harassment in the eyes of employment law. Harassment includes racial slurs and offensive jokes or any other type of unwelcome behaviour that violates an employee’s dignity. To constitute harassment, the unwanted conduct will also create a hostile, offensive, intimidating, humiliating or degrading environment for the employee.
- Victimisation – Victimisation happens when an employee is treated badly because they have complained about race discrimination in the past or supported someone else who has experienced discrimination at work. The EqA provides protection to anyone involved with an Employment Tribunal claim, such as someone providing evidence, who is experiencing unfavourable treatment in the workplace.