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Race Discrimination
It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of race against an 'employee' or 'worker'. For example, if you have been:
  • refused employment on the basis of race alone
  • offered employment on detrimental terms on the basis of race
  • denied access to opportunities for promotion, training and other benefits on the basis of race
  • subjected to a detriment on the basis of race
  • subjected to unwanted racial conduct
  • dismissed on the basis of race,
you may have a claim for race discrimination.

Qualifications for bringing a claim of race discrimination

To bring a claim of race discrimination, you will need to demonstrate that you are or were an employee or worker, or were applying for a job as an employee or worker.

There is no qualifying period of employment required to bring a claim.

Who is protected?

Claims can only be presented to an Employment Tribunal by an 'employee' or 'worker' who has been discriminated against on one of a number of prescribed grounds relating to race, namely:
  • Colour: if a person is treated less favourably because of that person's colour, it will amount to race discrimination;
  • Race: if a person is treated less favourably because of their race, it will amount to race discrimination;
  • Nationality or national origins: this denotes an individual's geographic origin or their legal nationality. Discrimination on this basis is unlawful;
  • Ethnic origins: if a person is treated less favourably because they are of a certain ethnic group, it will amount to race discrimination.

Types of race discrimination

Employment law recognises two different concepts of discrimination: direct and indirect.

Direct discrimination is treating somebody less favourably because of their race.

Indirect discrimination involves imposing a condition or requirement that a considerably smaller proportion of persons of a certain nationality or race will be able to comply with. An example would be a requirement that job applicants must speak excellent English. This could indirectly discriminate against applicants of certain ethnic origins. Therefore, unless the employer could objectively justify the requirement, certain applicants may have a claim for race discrimination.

Victimisation is in effect a third type of discrimination. A person is discriminated against if he is treated less favourably because he has brought proceedings in the past in relation to a discrimination claim, or provided evidence or information in connection with such a claim, or alleged that the employer (or a third party) has done an act which would amount to a breach of discrimination legislation.

The Regulations also provide for 'vicarious liability' provisions, making an employer responsible for anything done by a person in the course of his/her employment and for ensuring that if a person knowingly aids another person to do an unlawful act they are both treated as doing that act.


  • If an employee or worker has been the victim of unlawful discrimination, an Employment Tribunal has the power to order the payment of compensation. The award normally comprises two elements: injury to feelings and loss of earnings. In addition, Tribunals have jurisdiction to award damages for personal injury.
  • In addition to ordering compensation, Tribunals are able to make an order declaring the rights of the affected individual and make a recommendation that the employer takes, within a specified period.
If you think you have been discriminated against on the basis of race or ethnic origin, please phone Ashley Hunt, Vaishali Thakerar or Carrie-Ann Randall on 0116 212 1000 or complete the form on the right. Lawson-West offer free initial consultations so it won't cost you a penny to find out if you have a claim for race discrimination. We also run a number of free walk-in advice clinics at our offices in Leicester, Wigston & Market Harborough.

Lawson-West will make sure that your race discrimination claim is funded on the most appropriate basis and that will often be on a No Win No Fee basis. This means that Lawson-West have a vested interest in ensuring your employment claim is successful.