How To Prevent Racial Discrimination Tribunal Claims

Peninsula Team

December 02 2009

If you want to ensure your discrimination policy meets the required needs, just call the Advice Service on 0844 892 2772 and one of our specialist advisers will be on hand to help, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

There have been some record Tribunal payouts due to discrimination cases. It is amazing that in today’s society discrimination amongst any minority, religion or belief still occurs.

Company bosses are the first form of prevention when it comes to preventing discrimination. All workers should be treated equally, whether at the job interview or on the job. Legislation prohibits discrimination on ‘racial grounds’ or against a racial group. These ‘grounds’ are defined as meaning a persons colour, race, nationality or ethnic or national origins. A racial group is defined as meaning any group of persons defined by reference to colour, race, nationality or ethnic or national origins.

One of the most controversial bases upon which a racial group may be established is that of ethnic origin. Usually, for a group to be regarded as an ethnic group, Employment Tribunal cases have established that it should have a number of characteristics. Tribunals have, in appropriate instances, found that English, Gypsies, Irish, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and the Welsh constitute racial groups. On the other hand, Rastafarians and Jehovahs Witnesses have been found not to constitute racial groups (although they would be protected by the legislation on religion or belief). Codes of Practice for the elimination of discrimination on the grounds of race, sex and disability and for the promotion of equality of opportunity in employment have been issued by the former Racial Equality, Equal Opportunities and Disability Rights Commissions which are now merged into the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Equal opportunities monitoring forms should be issued with all application forms and when returned should be separated immediately, before any selection decision is made. Employers will then be able to compile a report showing the ethnic or national origins and gender of all applications, those who are short-listed and those who are eventually offered employment. This will enable employers to demonstrate that the people to whom employment is offered are a true representation of those who apply. The form can also be used to determine the background of an employers existing staff, thus measuring if they are representative of the community in which the organisation is placed. Most importantly, the form is a statement that the organisation is an equal opportunities employer. You should use the form and keep the results of the recruitment analysis on record for a minimum period of nine months and even longer where possible.

It is vital that you show yourself to be a pro-active employer in the enforcement of your discrimination policy so that, should you come up against a case at Tribunal, you have evidence to show that you are an equal opportunities employer.

If you want to ensure your discrimination policy meets the required needs, just call the Advice Service on 0844 892 2772 and one of our specialist advisors will be on hand to help, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

David’s Top Tips

• Employers need to ensure they have an equal opportunities policy in place and that it is communicated to all staff and management outlining the potential consequences of not adhering to it. Emphasise its importance.

• Nominate an individual to be responsible for discrimination issues, someone to whom employees can go to with complaints.

• Employers should check their recruitment procedures, including the details of any job advertisements (text and imagery), job descriptions and person specifications to ensure that they do not discriminate.

• Employers should ensure that all employees are made aware of discrimination and those who will be conducting interviews and making recruitment decisions are aware of Equal opportunities and have training where appropriate. Employers should also ensure that all of their workers are aware that harassment and victimisation are unacceptable and unlawful.

• Employers should check the provisions contained in their written statements of main terms, employee handbooks and any supplementary documentation.

• Record any complaint in writing and support the individual. Monitor, together with staff attitude surveys and exit interviews, may also provide useful evidence for the purposes of positive action, objective justification.

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