Race Discrimination

What Is Race Discrimination?

Race discrimination is when you are treated differently in way which is related to your colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin.

Have I been discriminated against? There are two ways an employer can discriminate against you on related to your race. Look at the examples below and if your case is similar to any of these you should call our specialist Employment Barristers today.

  1. Direct discrimination is when you are mistreated or dismissed because of your race. For example, you are not promoted, despite being the most qualified person for the job because of your ethnic origin. There is no justification for such discrimination. It is also discrimination if you are discriminated against because of the race of someone you are associated with. For example, if you are refused a promotion after your boss meets your black husband at the Christmas party. Direct discrimination is hard to prove but the law assists by providing that in many situations the burden of proof is on the employer to show that there is no discrimination.
  1. Indirect discrimination is when your employer applies the same rules to everyone but as a result of your race you are put at a disadvantage. However, the employee is entitled to do this if it can be justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. For example, you are Sikh and work in a chocolate factory where there is a rule prohibiting employees wearing beards and long hair. This could be justified in the interests of hygiene and safety.

There are also two other types of claim closely related to discrimination. These are:

  1. Victimisation is when you bring discrimination proceedings, make an allegation of discrimination or give evidence about a complaint of discrimination and then you are treated badly as a result. For example, you give evidence at a hearing of a colleague’s race discrimination case. You then return to work and no one will speak to you. Then the commission you earned that month is withheld from you for no valid reason.
  1. Harassment is when you are subject to behaviour that is intended to mistreat or humiliate you or to create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for you be in. For example, you have recently started a new job and you are Irish. Your colleagues have started to mock your accent and pretend not to understand what you say. They have also made jokes about your stature. This has been constant for your first month.

What about if the role requires me to be a particular race? If having regard to the nature and content of the work, it is required that you are of a certain race or not of a certain race, this is allowed, provided it can be justified. For example, if the work involves the provision of personal services to a particular racial group, the requirement for the employee to be of a particular race would be justified. How do I finance a claim? There are many ways in which claim can be financed. You may be entitled to Trade Union support. More promisingly, you may find on close examination of your household insurance policies that your benefit from legal expenses insurance – YEB barristers are expert at dealing with insurers. The highly publicised Employment Tribunal Fees should never in fact be a barrier to a deserving ET claims What can I get? If your claim is successful, the possibilities are:

  • A declaration of your rights
  • A recommendation regarding the action your employer should take to reduce the effect the discrimination has on you
  • Compensation (no maximum amount). This is particularly important if your employer dismisses you in a way that is found to be discriminatory. If you were to claim only unfair dismissal your claim would be limited to £78,335 or one year’s pay whichever is the lower. If your dismissal is an act of discrimination this does not apply.
  • Your compensation can include damages for injury to feelings.


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