Race Discrimination and Your Rights
Since 1976 Britain has had its own laws regarding race discrimination and your rights towards protection under the law. Race discrimination should never be tolerated, and there are legal consequences for those who do discriminate on the grounds of race.
The Race Relations Act 1976The Race Relations Act 1976 was passed by Parliament in Britain to make acts of racial discrimination unlawful. The act was introduced at a time when Britain was seeing a number of race related acts in major cities such as London and Birmingham. The 1976 act incorporated and updated the original 1965 Race Relations Act that made racial discrimination unlawful in public places. However, the original act was not seen as fair enough as it did not include any rules on employment or housing.
What is Race Discrimination?Race discrimination can be defined as the act of treating a person less favourably than another on the grounds of race, colour, nationality or ethnic origin. The 1976 act, which was again amended in 2000, means that this type of discrimination is unlawful and there can be legal consequences. There are a number of areas where race discrimination should not occur and rights of individuals are protected and these will include:
- Employment including employment training
- Public authorities and government agencies
- The provision of goods, services and financial affairs
Types of Race DiscriminationDirect discrimination is one of the more unconcealed types of discrimination. It will include acts such as verbal or physical abuse due to a person’s colour, nationality or ethnic origin. It can also include issues such as employees being passed over for promotion in the workplace or clubs that operate a quota rule to limit or eliminate black members. With direct discrimination it does not matter whether the discrimination was intended or not. Direct discrimination is unlawful and if proven there can be legal consequences.
Indirect DiscriminationIndirect discrimination occurs when, for example, a company has certain rules that apply to everyone but will put certain groups at a disadvantage. For instance a firm that will not employ anyone who does not have a British driving licence. This could be seen as indirect discrimination against foreign nationality workers in the UK. Unlike direct discrimination, employers do have the opportunity to justify their actions if the matter comes to an employment tribunal.
Victimisation and the LawVictimisation is another category that is included in the Race Relations Act. This could occur if someone has brought a claim against a company or an individual and then been treated unfavourably because of this action. It could also apply to a person who has given evidence, for example at an employment tribunal, and then been victimised because of this action. Victimisation should always be brought to the attention of the appropriate authorities and should not be allowed to continue.
HarassmentHarassment is a type of bullying similar to the type seen in school playgrounds. Wherever this type of racial harassment occurs it can have a very detrimental effect on the quality of a person’s life. Racial harassment can happen anywhere by anyone, even by public authority figures. Harassment is unlawful on the grounds of national origins, ethnicity and race. However it is not unlawful on the grounds of colour and nationality.
Enforcing your RightsRacial discrimination, harassment or victimisation should not be tolerated and anyone who has been subjected to this practice should enforce their rights. In employment situations the matter should be taken to a supervisor or Human Resources department. If this does not put an end to the discrimination or a resolution is not found then it could lead to an employment tribunal.
Outside of the working environment there are a number of sources of support such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Lawyers will also be able to give advice on the best course of action to take if race discrimination has occurred. Stamping out racial discrimination will not happen overnight but standing up for your rights is the only way to create a free and equal society.