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There's nothing black and white about race discrimination

View profile for Chloe Pereira
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Click here for our Insight into Race Discrimination in Employment.

It’s pretty obvious to us all that treating an employee or colleague badly because of their race will be unlawful discrimination – to be technical, that’s direct discrimination. It isn’t the obvious situations that usually land an employer in hot water though, and whilst there are (thankfully) very few people who go around spouting racial slurs and discriminating against their colleagues, it is those grey areas that can leave an employer exposed.

For example, as an employer you know that it’s important to have evidence of right to work in the UK – but make sure you request that from every employee, not just those who appear to be obviously not British. It’s also important to be aware that race covers not only skin colour, but includes nationality and ethnic and national origins. Some groups of people who you might not immediately think of who are protected from unlawful race discrimination are travellers/gypsies and Sikhs and Jews (which have been determined to be ethnic groups, separate from the fact they are also religious groups).

Airbnb has recently announced huge improvements after a report three years ago showed that racial discrimination was rife among their booking system, with reports of hosts rejecting bookings based on skin colour. Brighton & Hove council is considering extending its whistleblowing policy to allow race discrimination reports to be made anonymously. The Nursing Times in partnership with Unison has an open call for completion of a survey which will lead to discussion at a workforce summit to tackle racial discrimination in the health and care sector which they say “can blight the working lives of black and minority ethnic staff”.

As an employer it’s important to understand the key legal concepts, find out more from our Insight into Race Discrimination in Employment here.