Dealing with Racism at Work
It is illegal to discriminate against anyone of the grounds of their race. This includes their colour, nationality or ethnic origin. Unfortunately, it still happens but you need to stand up for your rights and not let any employer get away with it. There are different types of discrimination but they are all wrong and all punishable by law.
Direct DiscriminationDirect discrimination is when an employer blatantly treats people differently because of their race. This can include advertising jobs that are only for people of a certain race or paying one race more than others for doing the same job. This is not allowed and needs to be stopped as soon as it becomes an issue.
Indirect DiscriminationThis type of discrimination is not quite so blunt but it includes rules or practices that put you at a disadvantage in the workplace because of your race. So it may be that your employer institutes a new dress code, for no particular reason such as health and safety, which discriminates against people from certain ethnic backgrounds. They may try to talk their way out of it and say it isn’t racist but if it puts you at a disadvantage because of your ethnicity, then it is.
HarassmentOften, there is no one incident that stands out as being racist but the way that you are treated by your boss or colleagues is unfair. This can be in the form of racist jokes or underhand jibes, or being given the menial jobs to do when you are more qualified. Even if your boss doesn’t join in, if they overlook the behaviour then they are just as guilty. If you make a complaint about the way you are being treated and it only makes it worse then you are being victimised and you need to seek further help.
Positive ActionThere are some instances when people are targeted for jobs on the grounds of their race and when this seen as acceptable. These cases are when a particular racial group is severely under-represented in a certain career field or role. Then employers can provide special training and encourage people from particular ethnic groups to apply for certain roles.
Getting HelpIf you feel that you are being discriminated against at work, or when seeking employment then you have every right to take action against it. Racial discrimination is illegal and you shouldn’t stand for it. Start by approaching your boss about the subject with clear examples of what has happened and ask to see their equal opportunities policy. If they are unhelpful, or the cause of the problem, then you will need to seek help elsewhere. Talk to your trade union if you have one or go to your local racial equality council who can help you take the case to an employment tribunal.
Racism in the workplace is illegal and should not be tolerated. Whether it is direct, such as advertising a job for a certain race, indirect by implementing rules that out you at a disadvantage, or in the form of harassment – speak out. Approach your boss about the problem. If they are unhelpful or victimise you for raising the issue then consider taking them to an employment tribunal.