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    6 July 2020

    Discrimination in the workplace: Q&A

    Our employment solicitor James Conley answers 5 common questions about discrimination in the workplace.

    Issues of discrimination in the workplace can be complex, in our employment law Q&A we review discrimination within the recruitment process and workplaces, and review what someone can do if they feel they have been discriminated against because of their race.

     Q1. What rights do employees have against racial discrimination in the workplace?

    Race is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. This means that employees cannot be disadvantaged in the workplace by reason of their race. Race includes colour, nationality, ethnic and national origins.

    There are four main types of discrimination in relation to race:

    • Direct discrimination
    • Indirect discrimination
    • Harassment
    • Victimisation

    All of these types of discrimination are prohibited under the Equality Act 2010.

    Q2. What is direct and indirect discrimination?

    Direct discrimination involves identifying an individual and subjecting them to unfavourable treatment.

    Indirect discrimination is an action by an individual or company which applies to everyone but disadvantages a select group of people.

    Employers need to ensure that they have an equal opportunities policy and follow, as well as ensure that their staff are given appropriate training.

    Q3. What can an employee do if they feel they have been discriminated against because of their race?

    We recommend that employees approach their line managers, Human Resources department or management team to report a grievance in the first instance. Where you feel that the appropriate action hasn’t been taken or it is of such a serious nature, we recommend you speak to a solicitor, or call ACAS for further advice on the next steps you may be able to take.

    Q4. What can someone do if they feel they have been discriminated against during the recruitment process because of their race?

    All candidates and employees are protected in terms of discrimination against gender, sexuality, race. If you feel you have been discriminated against during the recruitment process, tell the company you are applying to join and ask for the full reasons for any decisions made. If necessary, call ACAS or speak to a solicitor.

    Top tips to create and maintain a non-discriminate workplace:

    • Creating and following an equal opportunities policy
    • Having a clear and transparent grievance procedure in place
    • Training staff to spot discriminatory behaviour
    • A zero-tolerance policy on discrimination, to include staff who bully or discriminate should be disciplined and/or dismissed
    • Encouraging people from all backgrounds to join your company.

    The Employment Law team actively share practical tips, legal updates and industry insights related to the Employment sector. See the news page links below for articles relating to discrimination in the workplace:

    9 March 2020 – International Women’s Day 2020 – equality in the workplace

    21 May 2020 – Mental Health in the Workplace

    5 June 2020 – Pride Month and Employment Law

    If you would have further questions regarding any of the points raised in our Q&A, or you wish to speak to a member of the Employment Law team regarding discrimination in the workplace please call 01603 598000 or email employment@steeleslaw.co.uk  and a member of the team will be happy to contact you.

    *The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.

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