Race discrimination in recruitment processes and workplaces
2 July 2020 by Priya Patel
With the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, there has been a focus on race discrimination in recruitment processes and workplaces. Below we take a look at some of the frequently asked questions and what someone can someone do if they feel they have been discriminated against because of their race and what employers can do to create and maintain a non-discriminate workplace.
What rights do employees have against racial discrimination in the workplace?
What is race discrimination?
Race discrimination is one of 9 protected characteristics protected by the Equality Act 2020 (EqA 2010) and it occurs when an employee is treated less favourably on the grounds of their race. ‘Race’ is defined as:
- Ethnic or National Origins.
An employee who has suffered discrimination at work should be advised to approach their line manager with a view to reporting discrimination soon after it has taken place, to prompt an investigation and they should follow their firm’s policies and procedures around dealing with discrimination at work. If they wish to, they can file a grievance with their employer to try seek redress for the discriminatory act. An employer can be liable for the discrimination just as the discriminator can. Under the EqA 2010, employees can make a claim to the Employment Tribunal if they believe they have been discriminated against, harassed or victimised because of their race.
What is direct and indirect discrimination and how can employers make sure they have an indiscriminate workplace?
What is direct discrimination?
Direct discrimination is where an employer treats an employee less favourably than they treat others because of their protected characteristic. Less favourable treatment can be described as where: employee (A) has been treated differently in comparison to employee (B) who doesn’t have employee (A)’s protected characteristic(s).
What is indirect discrimination?
Indirect discrimination is concerned with acts, decisions or policies (broadly speaking) which are not intended to treat anyone less favourably, but which, in practice, have the effect of disadvantaging a group of people with a particular protected characteristic. Where such a policy disadvantages an individual possessing that characteristic, it will amount to indirect discrimination, unless it can be objectively justified.
Employers should have clear policies for conduct at work, which include discrimination and diversity policies and they should also conduct unconscious bias training with employees.
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 or their Human Resources departments before proceeding with instituting formal procedures in the first instance. In some cases, workplace mediation can assist if the parties are willing to partake. In the event that no resolution to the problem can be found, invoking the employer’s grievance procedures may be necessary. Instituting an Employment Tribunal action can be used as final port of call.
What can someone do if they feel they have been discriminated against during the recruitment process because of their race?
The individual can approach their recruitment agency, if the role was advertised via an agency, or alternatively their Human Resources department within the firm. The individual can request feedback from their interview and a copy of the firm’s equality policy and a reason as to why the role was not offered to them. Sometimes discrimination in recruitment can be lawful. If it is warranted, a written complaint may be presented to the employer about its processes though. In the event that no resolution to the problem can be found, a complaint may be submitted to the Employment Tribunal.
What top tips would you give to employers to successfully create and maintain a non-discriminate workplace that all employees can feel comfortable and welcome in?
- Be proactive and implement up-to-date policies within employee handbooks and/or their contracts such as; equality, diversity inclusion, equal opportunities and anti-discrimination policies.
- Communicate clearly to enable transparency at all levels.
- Drive initiatives to promote racial equality in the workplace.
- Ethnic minority (BAME) employees; by executing BAME mentoring schemes/staff networks and training programmes to create opportunities for BAME employees to be on recruitment and interview panels.
- Train around and be aware of unconscious biases.
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