Your Support Guide to race discrimination cases

Race Discrimination Policy for Employers

Race discrimination is any form of unfair treatment towards an employee or someone they’re connected with because of their racial group – race or perceived race includes  their colour, nationality, citizenship and ethnic or national origins .

It’s outright illegal to discriminate against anyone on the grounds of their race – that we all know. But what isn’t as easy to always know, is how to handle complaints.

From your recruitment adverts and interviews to communicating your discrimination policies and writing your employment contracts, allegations of racial discrimination can stem from anywhere. So, we’re sure it goes without saying, treading carefully isn’t optional.

Our HR & Employment Law experts have years of experience that they want to share with you. We know exactly what does and doesn’t constitute race discrimination, and we’re here to keep you on the right side of regulations. With our online training courses, watertight discrimination policies and 24/7 support, you can be sure your business is in the best possible position it can be.

We’re by your side

Race discrimination – as with any type of discrimination – is a sensitive subject and, as such, it’s crucial that any discrimination claims are handled carefully.

So, if something goes wrong and you find yourself facing an allegation of race discrimination or racial harassment, we’ll be by your side with non-stop support.

We’ll help you conduct grievances and disciplinaries and carry out negotiations. We’ll do everything in our power to prevent a court case. And if you do end up at tribunal – providing you’ve followed all our advice – we’ll be right there by your side and even help pay your legal costs!

To find out more about how we can help your business, simply pop your details into the form below.

What’s race discrimination?

Under the Equality Act 2010, every single employee, job seeker and trainee has the right to not be discriminated against on the grounds of any of their protected characteristics.

Sometimes, race discrimination may be unintentional. For example, an employee might think what they’re saying is merely banter, but if the individual on the receiving end feels discriminated against, this can still qualify as race discrimination and the individual may be able to bring a claim forward. Race discrimination can be direct or indirect.

  • Direct race discrimination

    Direct race discrimination could be racist abuse, harassment on the grounds of race and/or unfavourable treatment because of race.

    For an employee to claim they’ve been directly discriminated against, they need to demonstrate that they are being treated less favourably compared to your treatment towards an employee in the same situation, but who doesn’t have the same protected characteristic. Our team came across a similar case where a local authority was found guilty of unfair dismissal which you can read about here. For example, if you take disciplinary action against a Canadian-born employee for regular lateness, but another British-born employee who has racked up the same number and amount of lateness instances flies below the radar.

    Another example of direct race discrimination could be if you turn an employee down for a promotion purely because their spouse is Afro-Caribbean.

  • Indirect race discrimination

    Indirect race discrimination comes in the form of rules, policies or practices that apply to all employees, but place employees of a particular racial, ethnic group or national group at a disadvantage.

    Examples of indirect race discrimination could include:

    Example 1: Putting out a job advert that specifies candidates must have UK qualifications.

    Example 2: Specifying that English must be an individual’s first language to apply for a job/promotion.

    Example 3: For cost-saving purposes, requiring all employees to work a full day on Fridays so that customer orders can all be processed on the same day of the week.

    This would put observant Jewish workers at a disadvantage because, in the winter months, it would prevent them from going home early to observe the Sabbath – if you can’t objectively justify it, this could consequently amount to indirect discrimination. Such a change for the sole purpose of cutting costs isn’t a legitimate one, because you can’t argue that to discriminate is cheaper than avoiding discrimination.

    However, if you have a legitimate reason for the rule, policy or practice’s existence you may not be held liable for indirect race discrimination; the key is that you must be able to clearly demonstrate why a clause that some employees may be less likely to meet needs to exist.

Discrimination during recruitment

Under the Equality Act 2010, every single candidate has the right to not be harassed, victimised or discriminated against because of their ethnic background.

Former Prime Minister, David Cameron introduced ‘name-blind CVs’ into public sector recruitment and this was a measure to reduce discrimination in recruitment. This measure came into place after research showed that applicants who “appeared white” were far more likely to be invited to an interview than someone who “appeared” as a minority. For more information on ‘name-blind CVs’ and discrimination during the recruitment process, head here.

Discrimination policies

Having a clear and well-communicated discrimination policy helps to prevent race discrimination in the workplace.

Your discrimination policy should explicitly outline your stance on discriminatory behaviour and what’s expected from employees, and be reviewed at regular intervals to ensure that equality of opportunity is given to all employees.

For more information on what a discrimination policy should look like and how to deal with complaints, download our discrimination and harassment policy templates here.

We’re here for you

We’re here to keep you on the straight and narrow by treating your people fairly and being compliant whilst doing so. Whether it’s help putting together and communicating watertight policies, handling allegations of discrimination or defending your case at an employment tribunal, our HR & Employment Law experts will be by your side every step of the way.

To find out just how much our HR consultants can start supporting your business’ success today, get in touch with the team on 0345 844 1111 or

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