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Racial discrimination

Racial Discrimination or Race Discrimination

redarrow Assessing a claim for racial discrimination

Racial discrimination or Race discrimination is discrimination on the grounds of race, nationality, ethnic or national origins or colour under the Race Relations Act 1976 Section 3.

Who can discriminate?

Racial Discrimination or Race Discrimination can take place within employment, Applications for employment, the provision of training and skills, the discrimination into contract workers, Trade Unions, vocational training bodies, employment agencies and the manpower services commission. This note will deal with Racial Discrimination or Race discrimination within the field of employment only.

In order to establish a claim, someone applying for a job or an employee must show they have been treated less favourably under the grounds of their race which includes the categories of colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origins. It is not enough simply to show that an act of Racial Discrimination or Race discrimination took place. The Claimant in an Employment Tribunal is also required to prove that this led to less favourable treatment because of the act of discrimination.

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Ivan who is of Russian nationality, is employed by a Company to make deliveries in a white van in the London area. Ivan has been employed by that Company for three months. When he makes a delivery to one particular Company, the Foreman at that Company who we will call Fred at Ignorant Limited loses his temper with Ivan because he is late on a delivery because of traffic. He says to Ivan “You ignorant Russian bastard”. Ivan is very upset about this and complains to his boss at Deliveries Same Day Limited. His boss writes to Ignorant Limited and complains about their Foreman, Fred.

Let us just analyse what the position is at this stage. Firstly, has an act of discrimination taken place? Ivan has been called a “Russian bastard” which is a direct reference to his nationality. Discrimination on the grounds of nationality can amount to race discrimination. His employer, Deliveries Same Day Limited have complained to the Company who employ Fred. So far, so good. If Ignorant Limited discipline Fred for making that racist remark, then how has Ivan been treated less favourably on the grounds of his race or nationality by his employer who have complained on his behalf? In short, they have not. If however his employer did not complain on his behalf and when he made the complaint told him to get on with it and to just ignore Fred, this could amount to less favourable treatment if this means that he is subject to continuous harassment every time he visits Ignorant Limited doing his job. The Company is aware of it and they are allowing it to happen.

As you can see, complex situations arise in claims of this nature. Racial Discrimination or Race Discrimination can either be direct discrimination or indirect discrimination.

Direct discrimination can include treating someone less favourably because of their race which can include things like not getting promotion because they happen to be black, being taken on or being allowed to attend an interview when they have the same qualifications as someone else because they happen to have an Asian name, or being subject to racial abuse. There are numerous other direct discrimination examples.

Indirect discrimination however is where a system or practice sets up a barrier that substantially affects one race as compared to another and can include things like:

People of other nationalities could have qualifications which are equivalent to qualifications in this country but we could chose not to recognise those qualifications so that when they applied for jobs in this country, their qualifications because they are from abroad, would not count.

This could be an example of indirect discrimination. However, in the case of indirect discrimination, there is a defence that the employer can use on the basis of justification if it is determined that there is discrimination.


Let’s apply these principles to an individual who has passed a driving test to drive a normal car in Iraq and he applies for a job in this country to drive a taxi. If he is excluded from that job purely on the basis that the Company do not recognise a foreign driving license, then that potentially is discriminatory. However, it would amount to justification if the reason for the exclusion is in order to make passengers safe on the road and all recognised drivers must have at least 2 years experience on British roads before they are taken on as taxi drivers. The justification in this sense would be in the interest of safety, all drivers should be fully familiar for at least 2 years with English driving conditions. That is not necessarily justifiable.

The same could be said, for example, of language difficulties with a doctor or language difficulties with a teacher. There are numerous other examples.

Let’s summarise where we are up to

You can discriminate against an employee if you treat them less favourably on the grounds of race. Race includes colour, nationality, ethnic origins and national origins. The law requires that the act of discrimination if it is direct discrimination is caused or amounts to less favourable treatment on the grounds of the racial discrimination or race discrimnation.

In the case of indirect discrimination, that can be defined as the position of a requirement on a particular race makes it more difficult and less likely that the individual will be able to meet that requirement who is from that racial group. In this situation, the Respondent can raise the defence of justification if he can show that the discrimination itself is justified or for some other good reason such as health and safety or other examples.

If you are facing redundancy visit our redundancy pages.

If you are being unfairly Dismissed, visit our Unfair Dismissal pages.

If you are being disrciminated against due to race, visit our Race Discrimination pages.

If you are considering going to an Employment Tribunal then see our Employment Tribunal pages

If you are facing Constructive Dismissal, visit our Constructive Dismissal pages.

If you are losing your job due to Misconduct or Gross Misconduct, visit our Misconduct or Gross Misconduct pages.

If you are losing your job due to Capability then visit our Capability pages

If you think you may be suffering from disability discrimination then visit our disability discrimination pages

If you are being asked to sign a Compromise Agreement, then visit our Compromise Agreement pages.

If you are being put on Garden Leave then please see our Garden Leave pages

Racial Discrimination or Race Discrimination means the same.


The site author/owner has endeavoured to give clear information to benefit the reader. The information is no substitute for obtaining specific advice about any claim you may have from a person qualified to give it. The examples, and circumstances described etc bear no relation to any actual case and any resemblance to real circumstances is purely accidental and unintentional. The site author/owner accepts no liability for any mistake, error or inconsistency in the text and the reader should ALWAYS OBTAIN specific advice about his/her own situation. In order to assist the reader, you can give your details so that a qualified advisor can call you free of charge and assist you further via CLAIM EVALUATOR