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The Equality Act 2010 is there to protect you from all forms of discrimination in the workplace, including selection for a job, promotion, work practices, dismissal or any other disadvantage because of your race.  The Act protects apprentices, employees under contract and self-employed workers.

Race discrimination can arise in relation to:

  • The arrangements made for deciding who should be offered employment such as shortlisting and interviews;
  • The terms upon which employment is offered;
  • Refusing or deliberately omitting to offer employment;
  • The ways in which access to opportunities for promotion, transfer, training or other benefits, facilities or services are offered;
  • Dismissal or any other disadvantage

Our employment lawyers understand that race discrimination cases are often of a delicate and sensitive nature and that the thought of making a claim against your employer or your previous employer might seem intimidating and unachievable.  Our specialist employment lawyers are experts in these cases and are dedicated in providing you with the help and support you need throughout your claim.

Direct Discrimination

Have you been treated less favourably than someone else due to your race?  If so, this could be seen as direct discrimination.

In order to determine whether you have been directly discriminated against a comparison would need to be made with someone of a different race where their circumstances are the same or not materially different from yours.

Some examples of direct discrimination include:

  • Someone who is not promoted because they are of Afro Caribbean origin;
  • Someone who is subject to harassment because their partner is black African;
  • Someone who is prevented from attending training because they are thought to be of Asian origin.

Indirect Discrimination

Indirect discrimination can arise where an employer applies a provision, criterion or practice which puts people of a one racial group at a particular disadvantage compared to others who do not share the same racial group and where the employer cannot justify the reason.

Employers can only justify indirect discrimination if they can show that it was “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.”

Examples of indirect race discrimination include:-

  • Requiring all employees to have English as a first language
  • Insisting that qualifications must come from a UK based educational establishment


Harassment can occur when you are subjected to unwanted conduct relating to your race where you feel your dignity has been violated or you have been left in an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

This may occur of you have personally been subjected to unwanted comments because of your race. Alternatively, if racially offensive comments are made about your partner or children then this is also protected under the Act. 

For the Tribunal to determine whether the conduct amounts to harassment, they will take into account the perception of the person alleging discrimination and if it is reasonable to consider the comments or behaviour to be offensive.

Proving a Claim

When making a claim it needs to be proved that on the balance of probabilities your employer discriminated against you because of your race.

Tribunals are aware it can sometimes be difficult for you to provide clear evidence of discrimination.  However, once we have established the facts and the Tribunal concludes that there might have been discrimination then it is up to your employer to prove that they did not discriminate against you.

This is known as the reversal of the burden of proof.  Where, for example, you complain that your employer failed to promote you on racial grounds and the evidence points to the possibility of racial discrimination, if your employer has no explanation or if the Tribunal finds their explanation inadequate or unsatisfactory it can conclude that the discrimination was on racial grounds.

Time Limits

If you feel you are being or have been discriminated against any claim must be brought within three months less one day of the act of discrimination that you are complaining about.  In exceptional circumstances the three month time limit may be extended if a Tribunal believes that it is just and equitable to do so.

If your discrimination has occurred over a long period of time, this may be considered as a continuing act of discrimination. Any such claim must then be brought within three months less one day of the last act in the series of acts of discrimination.

Where possible, a written grievance should be issued to your employer setting out the complaint in order to prevent any possible reduction on any Tribunal award. However, lodging a grievance does not alter the above time limits for making any claim for race discrimination to the Tribunal. If in doubt, contact us today for advice on the time limits which might apply to your claim.

Race Discrimination Compensation Scotland

There is no formal limit to the amount of compensation for race discrimination. Claims can include loss of earnings (past and future), loss of pension, interest due and any other outlays associated with the discrimination.

The amount of compensation for injury to feelings can vary enormously and will depend on the extent to which the discrimination has affected you personally.

If you feel you are being discriminated against because of your race you may be entitled to claim compensation for injury to feelings and financial losses, if there are any.

Talk to Thompsons

Worried about making claim?  Contact us on 0800 0891 331 and our solicitors will talk you through the process free of charge and with no obligation.  Our lawyers have years of experience in representing victims of workplace discrimination. Unlike many other firms, we only ever represent employees, never employers.

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