Equality Law Could Bar White Men from Jobs; Harriet Harman: Help for Women
Byline: DANIEL MARTIN
WHITE men could be blocked from getting jobs under anti-discriminationlaws being considered by Labour.
Employers would be allowed to give preferential treatment to women or ethnicminorities if candidates are equally qualified.
The plans, unveiled by Equalities Minister Harriet Harman, are likely to becriticised by business leaders - and last night, even equalities campaignersexpressed doubt. Miss Harman - known as Harriet Harperson for her politicallycorrect views - wants to look at how to bring U.S.-style 'positive action' toBritain.
She says it is vital to ensure the workforce more accurately reflects themake-up of the population and warns that too many women and ethnic minoritiesare being held back because they cannot break through the 'glass ceiling'. Thelaws would come into play only where two equally qualified candidates hadapplied for the same post, allowing the employer to tip the balance in favourof minority candidates.
Businesses would not be compelled to favour the woman or black candidate, butthe law would be changed to ensure they could not be sued for turning down awhite man.
The proposals would also allow universities to select more women students inmale-dominated subjects such as science.
But equal rights campaigners said the rules would have a limited effect, andthat action should be targeted on equal pay. Katherine Rake of the FawcettSociety, which campaigns on equal pay, said: 'How you would really hold that upin a court of law is not clear and, if it isn't, employers may be reluctant touse it.
You are probably talking about a handful of cases.' The current law saysemployers are allowed to say they welcome applications from minoritycandidates, and they are allowed to promote jobs to specific groups. …