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Race discrimination: Know the law

Accusations of racial discrimination have been hitting the headlines recently, both on the football pitch and off. How does the Equality Act protect workers against discrimination on the grounds of race?

The Equality Act 2010 broke new ground in extending protection to the majority of those who work in any capacity, as well as job applicants who never start work, former employees and the self-employed. The Act states that it is unlawful to discriminate either directly or indirectly against a job applicant, worker or trainee on grounds of race, colour, nationality or and ethnic or national origins, although some exceptions are allowed if they can be justified by the nature of the work. For example, it can be legal to employ someone of a particular racial or ethnic group if there is a genuine occupational requirement, and indirect discrimination can be justified in certain situations if it is deemed to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

It's essential for employers to be up to speed with the law on discrimination and to communicate clear policies to all employees. Employers who fail to act to stop discrimination, harassment and bullying by their employees may be breaking the law and could face tribunal claims.

Acas can visit your organisation to assist in addressing a range of issues related to equality and diversity and then work with you to develop practical solutions. Acas experts can help you to draw up policies to prevent discrimination in the workplace put in place bullying and harassment procedures.

Visit the Acas training and business solutions page for more information.

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