Race Discrimination Specialist With Expert Advice

In the UK, you cannot discriminate against someone because of their race, nationality or ethnic or national origin. The Equality Act 2010 (EqA) protects employees from unlawful discrimination and sets out obligations for employers to promote racial equality and fair treatment in the workplace. If you think you have experienced race discrimination, you may be able to make a discrimination claim at the Employment Tribunal.

What is race discrimination?

Race is a protected characteristic. Discrimination occurs when employees are treated less favourably in the workplace due to their race. Under the EqA, the definition of ‘race’ is very broad and covers colour as well as nationality and ethnic or national origins. Employees can be discriminated against based on their race or racial characteristics, perpetuating biases and prejudices that hinder equal opportunities and inclusion at work.

Discriminatory behaviour can be carried out by an employer as well as an employee or a third party such as a customer, and an employer may be responsible for the discriminatory behaviour of others. The protection provided by the EqA extends from the recruitment process and through employment. Vocational training and apprenticeships are also covered by this legislation. There is no opportunity for businesses to opt out of the EqA either.

The different types of race discrimination in the workplace

All employers should actively try to create a workplace that embraces diversity and values racial equality. Eliminating race discrimination is key to creating a positive and inclusive work environment where all employees can thrive. The Equality Act 2010 protects against different types of race discrimination at work;

Direct race discrimination

Direct discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee less favourably because of their race, nationality or ethnicity. For example, if a qualified candidate is overlooked during the recruitment process solely because of their race, this would be considered direct race discrimination. Making a claim for direct discrimination requires a ‘comparator’ and this can be a real or hypothetical person.

It is worth noting that direct race discrimination can arise when an employee is discriminated against because of their association with someone else too. For instance, an employee is treated unfairly because of their partner’s race. Also, direct race discrimination can occur when an employee is perceived to be a certain race.

Indirect race discrimination

Indirect discrimination arises when there are policies, practices or criteria in place that appear to be neutral but put employees of a particular racial group at a disadvantage. An example of indirect race discrimination is requiring specific language skills that are not essential for the job and disproportionately affect individuals from certain racial backgrounds. If the provision, criterion or practice is not objectively justifiable, it will be considered discriminatory.

Racial discrimination can also manifest through practices that segregate employees or perpetuate racial stereotypes. This includes assigning employees to certain roles or work environments based on their race or treating employees differently based on racial stereotypes.


Racial harassment refers to unwanted behaviour based on a person’s race that violates an employee’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. It can include racial slurs, derogatory comments, racial jokes or any form of unwelcome racial treatment that interferes with an employee’s work.


Victimisation occurs when an employee is subjected to detrimental treatment as a result of them making a complaint about race discrimination. It can also arise when an employee is supporting someone else who has raised a complaint or is involved in an EqA claim.

Making a race discrimination claim

When making a race discrimination claim, there are time frames that you need to adhere to. The claim should be made within three months less one day of the discriminatory conduct and the Employment Tribunal will only ever extend this time frame if it is just and equitable to do so. Acting quickly is always important in discrimination claims.

The outcome of an Employment Tribunal case will vary depending on the specific circumstances of the claim. If compensation is awarded, this will be for damage directly caused by the discrimination and it can include; loss of earnings, loss of future earnings and injury to health or feelings. The compensation in race discrimination claims is limitless. However, it is important to follow the ACAS Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance Procedures when making a claim to the Employment Tribunal otherwise any compensation received can be reduced by up to 25%.

If you think you have experienced race discrimination at work, it is advisable to consult with an employment law expert who specialises in discrimination cases. They can provide guidance on your legal rights, help you to understand the options available to you and support you in taking a claim to the Employment Tribunal to address the discrimination you have faced. A race discrimination lawyer can answer any questions you may have and provide you with additional information about discrimination law too.