Under the Equality Act 2010, an employer cannot treat you unfairly or differently because of your race. If they do, it could be deemed race discrimination at work and you could be entitled to seek compensation which you could do through an employment tribunal. To find out more about how you would have to prove race discrimination in the workplace and how to seek compensation from your employer, please read on.
The Definition of “Race” As Described in the Equality Act
Under the “Act”, race is defined as follows:
- Ethic origins
- National origins
Who Does the Act Protect?
The Equality Act covers all employees, people who apply for jobs, trainees, apprentices, contract workers, company directors, company partners, the self-employed as well as workers who are on secondment. The Act also covers every area of employment which includes the following:
- Provision of training
- Provision of benefits
- Occupational pensions
What is the Definition of Race Discrimination?
The definition of race discrimination is as follows:
- Being treated unequally because of your perceived race, your race or because of the race of a person you associate with
Under the Equality Act, “race” is deemed to be a “protected characteristic” and as such, for an employer to act in such a way towards you would be unlawful. The Act is set in place to protect all workers and employees from race discrimination in the workplace and it covers all the relevant aspects of employment. You can be discriminated against because of your race if four ways which are as follows:
- Direct discrimination
- Indirect discrimination
You can be discriminated against because of your race during a job interview, and in the terms of your employment if you are offered a job at all. You can be discriminated against in the workplace where promotions and transfer opportunities are concerned. Race discrimination can also apply to dismissal or being treated unfairly or detrimentally in the workplace.
What is the Definition of Direct Discrimination?
Direct discrimination is when one person treats another person less favourably and it is unlawful if the discrimination is on the grounds of their race. You could be discriminated against for the following reasons:
- Because of your race
- Because of your perceived race
- Because you associate with someone of race
What is the Definition of Indirect Discrimination
The definition of indirect discrimination in the workplace is when there is a policy, working practice that could put ethnic minorities at a disadvantage. Your employer could discriminate against you because of a policy that is in place for all workers but which does the following:
- Puts you at a specific disadvantage than it does to other employees because of your race
- The policy/practice cannot be seen as a proportionate means when it comes to achieving was is perceived as a legitimate goal
An example of indirect discrimination in the workplace being as follows:
- Workers/employees being asked to be “clean shaven” which would put anyone of a certain religious sect at a distinct disadvantage
It is worth noting that “indirect racial discrimination” can be justified but the onus to prove that any such discrimination would be a “proportionate means to achieve a legitimate aim” would be put on an employer. However, there are situations where “race discrimination” would be deemed lawful which is when a person of a certain race is required to carry out a job for “authenticity”.
An example being as follows:
- A Chinese waiter being required to work in a Chinese restaurant
What is the Definition of Harassment?
You could be the victim of harassment in the workplace because or your race, national or ethnic origins with a person violating you in the following ways:
- Violating your dignity
- Creating a hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for you to work in
It is worth noting that even if a person’s actions towards you in the workplace are “perceived” as being harassing, it would still be deemed harassment.
Harassment in the workplace includes the following:
- Being subjected to abusive language
- Being excessively watched over when you work
- Putting up with excessive criticism of your work
You can be the victim of harassment at work even when the behaviour is not directed at you personally. The Equality Act also protects you from being harassed by third parties and your employer could be deemed liable if this occurs and they failed to put in place reasonable measures to prevent racial harassment from taking place in a working environment.
What is the Definition of Victimisation?
The definition of victimisation according to the Equality Act 2010, is when you are treated less favourably because you attempted to do the following:
- Raise a grievance about race discrimination in the workplace
- Tried to raise a grievance
- Helped another employee raise a grievance or complaint
This can also cover you if it is “assumed” you attempted to raise a grievance or complaint about race discrimination at work. It is noteworthy that you would not have to compare the treatment you received to another worker/employee who has not done any of the above.
Would My Employer Be Held Liable for Race Discrimination in the Workplace?
Your employer could be held liable if you were discriminated against because of your race in the workplace whether another worker/employer discriminated against you or your employer did. Should the discrimination have been committed by a work colleague, your employer could still be held responsible for their actions which is referred to in law as “vicarious liability”.
Your employer could also be deemed liable for the actions of other third parties in certain situations and circumstances. Should you have been discriminated against by a workmate, you should contact a solicitor who specialises in this type of case who would typically recommend that you file your case in an employment tribunal against your employer and the person who discriminated against you.
It is worth noting that your employer can offer a defence stating that they did everything they could have done to prevent race discrimination in the workplace and as such, they may not be deemed liable. An experienced lawyer would investigate your employer’s defence and would offer essential legal advice on whether you should continue with your race discrimination at work claim against them.
How Do I Prove Race Discrimination at Work?
If you believe you were the victim of race discrimination in the workplace, the onus to prove your case would fall to you. You would have to prove your case “on the balance of probabilities”. In short, an employment tribunal may doubt as to whether your employer discriminated against you because of your race, but providing the majority of the tribunal believes you were discriminated against by your employer, your case would be upheld and the tribunal would rule in your favour.
If you succeed in establishing that your employer discriminated against you because of your race, it would be up to your employer to prove otherwise. Finding direct evidence of race discrimination can prove challenging and many employers deny they treated an employee in such a way. As such, it is far better to seek legal advice from a lawyer who specialises in this type of discrimination claim because they have vast experience when it comes to defending workers and employees who have been the victims of race discrimination at work.
Do I Have to Raise a Grievance For Race Discrimination at Work?
It is far better to attempt to resolve a discrimination issue informally to begin with by filing an internal grievance with your employer or the person in charge. This obliges your employer to arrange a meeting at the earliest opportunity so your grievance/complaint can be heard. This is especially true if you are still working for the employer.
Should you have been fired from your job and you believe that you were discriminated against because of your race, you should contact a solicitor as soon as possible because you may not only be able to file a race discrimination claim against your employer but an unfair dismissal claim too.
How Does a Tribunal Deal With Race Discrimination in the Workplace?
If you have been the victim of race discrimination at work, and you take your case to an employment tribunal where it is ruled in your favour, you could be awarded in one of three ways which are as follows:
- An order stating the rights of the parties
- A recommendation that your employer takes specific steps to remove or reduce discrimination in the workplace
What Level of Compensation Could I Receive in a Successful Race Discrimination Claim?
There is no “ceiling” on the amount of race discrimination compensation you could be awarded by an employment tribunal if your case is successful. The amount you receive would compensate you for the following:
- Injury to your feelings
- Loss of earnings or pension
There are 3 bands when it comes to compensation for injury to feelings which reflect the severity and seriousness of each case. These are referred to as the “Vento Guidelines” and are as follows:
- Top band covers the most serious cases, and the amount you could be awarded would be between £26,000 and £44,000 – bearing in mind that the higher amount can be a lot higher where exceptional cases are involved
- Middle band covers less serious cases than the top band, and the amount you could receive would be between £8,800 and £26,300
- Lower band covers less serious cases than the middle band, and the amount you may be awarded would be between £900 and £8,800
There is a strict time limit associated with race discrimination claims which must be respected. As such, if you feel you have been the victim of discrimination because of your race or you have been victimised or harassed at work, you should contact a lawyer sooner rather than later to avoid running out of time to file a race discrimination claim against your employer.
What is the Time Limit to Filing a Race Discrimination Claim Against an Employer?
As previously mentioned, there are strict time limits that govern discrimination claims in the United Kingdom which must be adhered to although an employment tribunal does have discretion when it comes to filing late claims providing there are exceptional circumstances as to why it was not done in a timely manner. With this said, the statutory time limit associated with discrimination at work claims is as follows:
- 3 months less one day from the time you were discriminated against in the workplace
- If the discrimination you were subjected to at work was on a continuous basis, the time limit would begin from the last time you were discriminated against and the same applies if the discriminatory act was due to a policy, rule or practice that was in place
Because of the short time limit, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible if you believe you have been discriminated against at work. A solicitor would ensure that you adhere to the ACAS early conciliation procedure which is a mandatory process that must be followed prior to filing your case through an employment tribunal.
What Can Be Included in a Race Discrimination at Work Claim?
All claims are different and as such the amount you may be awarded by an employment tribunal in a successful race discrimination at work claim would depend on several factors. However, you would be compensated for all the money you may have lost because you were discriminated at work because of your race which is referred to a your “financial loss” and includes right up to the time you find another job if you lost your job.
Should you suffer from depression or a physical injury which is referred to as “aggravated damages”, this could be included in your claim against your employer. You may also need to file other claims because you were discriminated against at work for the following:
- Unpaid pay and holiday pay
Should you have lost your job, your employer may also owe you the following:
- Redundancy pay
- Notice pay
If you have worked for more than 2 years for your employer, you can also include a basic award in your claim. A solicitor would put together what is called a “schedule of loss” and it would include this in your final settlement agreement.
As previously mentioned, you would also be compensated for the “hurt and distress” you endured because you were discriminated against in the workplace because of your race which is referred to as “injury to your feelings” which under the Vento guidelines has 3 bands of compensation:
- Top band – £26,300 to £44,000 – you could be awarded a much higher figure if it is deemed that your race discrimination at work claim is exceptional
- Middle band – £8,800 to £26,300
- Lower band – £900 to £8,800
Should I Sue My Employer for Race Discrimination at Work?
There are specific characteristics that are deemed “protected” which includes “race”. As such, if you were the victim of race discrimination in the workplace, you have the right to seek compensation for your financial losses and “injuries to your feelings”. If you lost your job as a result of an employer’s behaviour and actions towards you because of your race, it could put you in financial difficulties. As such, filing a race discrimination claim with the aid of an experience lawyer and being awarded a level of compensation you deserve, could help you get through a difficult period of your life.
Employers not only have a duty to ensure you are kept safe from harm while you are at work, they also have to hold insurance to cover accidents at work and harm to employees which includes being discriminated against while you are in their employment. The insurance provider would deal with every aspect of your claim and would settle the amount you are awarded in race discrimination compensation.
What are My Workers Rights If I Am Discriminated Against?
As previously mentioned, one of the “protected characteristics” under the Equality Act 2010 is “race” and as such if you are discriminated against in the workplace because of your race, you have the right to level a claim through an employment tribunal against your employer. However, there is a specific procedure that must be followed when filing a race discrimination claim against an employer which is why it is best to seek legal advice before doing anything else.
What Are the Benefits of Having a Solicitor Represent Me in a Race Discrimination at Work Claim?
Discrimination at work claims are often disputed by employers and therefore proving they are liable can be challenging. There are specific protocols and procedures that must be followed and if they are not, a race discrimination at work claim may not be successful and may not even be heard by an employment tribunal. As such, working with a solicitor who has vast experience in handling this type of claim offers many benefits and advantages some of which are listed below:
- You would be offered an initial consultation which allows a solicitor the opportunity to assess your claim and to establish whether an employer or other third party could be held liable. The consultation may be done over the phone or in a face-to-face meeting with the solicitor depending on the complexity of the case. You would not be obliged to continue with a claim if you do not wish to do so
- Once the solicitor you contact is happy that your race discrimination at work claim is valid and that an employer could be deemed liable, they would offer to represent you on a No Win No Fee basis which could involve signing a Conditional Fee Agreement with them. This allows the solicitor to begin investigating your claim with the need of requesting that you pay them an upfront fee
- If you are suffering from depression or have been physically injured, the solicitor would arrange for you to be seen by an independent specialist. The specialist would produce a crucial report on your medical condition which would be used as a basis for the damages you may be awarded in a successful race discrimination at work claim
- The solicitor would let you know at the earliest opportunity the amount of compensation you may be entitled to receive
- The solicitor would communicate with your employer and their insurance providers allowing you to place your focus on other things which includes your recovery
Because of the short 3 month less 1 day time limit associated with discrimination claims, working with an experienced lawyer from the outset, would help ensure that you do not run out of time when filing a race discrimination at work claim against your employer which in turn, would ensure that you receive the compensation you may be entitled to.
If you would like to know more about the ACAS early reconciliation process that must be followed prior to filing a race discrimination at work claim through an employment tribunal, please follow the link below:
To find out more about the law as laid out in the Equality Act, please click on the link below: