Dealing with Race Discrimination; Advertising Feature Employment Lawyers Are Seeing More Instances of Hostility towards Non-Britons Following the EU Referendum, Says Leading Lawyer Clive Howard

The Evening Standard (London, England), September 13, 2016 | Go to article overview

Dealing with Race Discrimination; Advertising Feature Employment Lawyers Are Seeing More Instances of Hostility towards Non-Britons Following the EU Referendum, Says Leading Lawyer Clive Howard


"BOTH anecdotally, and from the experience of our firm, there has been more hostility toward Europeans and generally to people perceived to be foreign, too following the Brexit vote," says Clive Howard, of leading law firm Slater and Gordon.

"For example, work colleagues may be more confident about objecting to individuals speaking their own language at work. That could be two Polish workers or a group talking in Spanish or French. There may be no good, work-related reason for these objections.

"Others may find that they are being excluded from important meetings or perhaps marketing events where the company does not want the individual to meet clients or contacts because of their nationality or race.

"Or individuals may find they are not being passed new client opportunities, they are paid a lower bonus comparative to British colleagues or are excluded from important communications."

In all of these instances, the law is there to protect you.

"If you are treated less favourably because of your race, which includes your colour, nationality or ethnic or national origin, there is protection under the Equality Act 2010," says Howard.

"In terms of employment, this Act protects you at the recruitment stage where for example, candidates can be treated less favourably because their surname looks "foreign" or their CV shows they were not educated in the UK and while in employment where individuals can find they are not offered training or promotions, are kept away from clients or at the very worst, dismissed. The Act also offers protection after employment ends for example, if an individual is given a negative reference."

There are several ways in which you can be discriminated against.

"The obvious one is direct discrimination when someone is treated less favourably because of their race," says Howard.

"However, many cases involve indirect discrimination, which can be more complicated. For example, an employer may have a seemingly neutral language requirement that all staff have excellent written English, even if it is not relevant to the job they do. This is likely to place many non-British applicants at a substantial disadvantage when applying for the role. Imposing such a requirement may be unlawful unless there is a valid and necessary reason to do so."

The other type of discrimination which has notably increased since Brexit is harassment because of race. In legal term, this is "unwanted conduct related to race which has the effect of violating someone's dignity or creating a hostile environment". "So, if someone makes a racist joke and as an individual you feel this is both 'unwanted' and violates your dignity or that it creates a 'hostile environment', then this potentially is unlawful harassment," says Howard. …

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