Racial abuse in the workplace is never appropriate. This post will explore what constitutes discrimination, and what action you can take if you feel like you have been racially discriminated against at work.
When does ‘banter’ stop being banter and become discrimination?
In general, it is accepted that if comments are likely to cause offence to anyone, they are considered harassment (a form of discrimination). This applies in particular to comments that are made about a ‘protected characteristic’ – defined in the Equality Act 2010 as age, race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, religion, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy maternity. Any discrimination in relation to a protected characteristic is unlawful discrimination.
Offensive comments can come in the form of verbal jokes as well as comments made in emails, text messages and via social media.
In some workplaces there may be a culture of racist jokes or comments being brushed off as ‘banter’. This is a serious issue and it is the responsibility of your employer to deal with this urgently and efficiently.
What can I do if I feel like I have been unlawfully discriminated against?
It is a good idea to make a note of any behaviour you find offensive, including when it happened, what was said and who made the comments. Sometimes it will be enough to let your colleague know that what they have said has offended you – maybe they were not aware. However, if this is not successful, you should report the incident(s) to your manager. There should be an equal opportunities policy in place which you can refer to for guidance on taking action. If you are a member of a trade union, you can also let them know what has happened. Your union representative will help you take the next steps to address the issue. Your employer must take the matter seriously and take disciplinary action where appropriate.
If you feel like you have been the subject of racial discrimination at work and your employer is responsible or does nothing about it, you may be able to bring a claim against your employer before the employment tribunal and, if successful, awarded compensation. The amount awarded will take into account any loss of money you have suffered as a result of the discrimination, as well as the extent of your injury to feelings.
Contact our Workplace Discrimination Solicitors Hertfordshire
With lawyers based in Hertfordshire, and servicing London, Southern England and beyond, our team of Workplace Discrimination Solicitors can help you with all areas of your claim, ensuring you receive the best representation from the start of your case through to the end. To speak to a member of our team, call us today on 01442 330 446, or complete our online enquiry form.