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Race Discrimination

Race discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably because of race, colour, and nationality, ethnic or national origin. The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against employees because of these characteristics.

Race discrimination covers four areas:

  • direct discrimination: treating someone less favourably because of their actual or perceived race, or because of the race of someone with whom they associate
  • indirect discrimination: can occur where there is a policy, practice or procedure which applies to all workers, but particularly disadvantages people of a particular race. An example could be a requirement for all job applicants to have GCSE Maths and English: people educated in countries which don't have GCSEs would be discriminated against if equivalent qualifications were not accepted.
  • harassment: when unwanted conduct related to race has the purpose or effect of violating an individual's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual
  • victimisation: unfair treatment of an employee who has made or supported a complaint about racial discrimination.

In very limited circumstances, there are some jobs which can require that the job-holder is of a particular racial group. This is known as an 'occupational requirement'. One example is where the job-holder provides personal welfare services to a limited number of people and those services can most effectively be provided by a person of a particular racial group because of cultural needs and sensitivities.

It is unlawful to discriminate against a job-seeker, worker or trainee on grounds of race, colour, nationality, and ethnic or national origins. Employers should ensure they have policies in place which are designed to prevent discrimination in:

  • recruitment and selection
  • determining pay
  • training and development
  • selection for promotion
  • discipline and grievances
  • countering bullying and harassment
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