You think you might be being discriminated against at work or in a hiring process – read this page to find out what your rights are as someone from the BAME community.
The important information you need to know
If you are a member of the Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community, this guide has been developed to help you understand your rights with work in the UK. For a greater insight into our use of acronyms and certain terminology, see our dedicated terminology page.
Equality Act 2010
If you identify with or belong to the BAME community, you are included in the UK’s all-encompassing diversity legislation, the Equality Act 2010. The act defines a set of protected characteristics that can be used to identify discrimination.
One of the protected characteristics is race, which includes skin colour, nationality, as well as ethnic or national origin. The BAME community is protected under this characteristic, such that if there is any discrimination against you or another based on your identification with or belonging to the BAME community, the Equality Act protects you.
Direct discrimination is defined as a situation in which a person is treated unfairly as the result of identifying with or belonging to a protected characteristic. An example of this kind of discrimination would be if someone less qualified than you was offered a promotion because they were not from the BAME community.
If you know of or have experienced an example of this kind of discrimination and have sufficient evidence, winning a discrimination claim against a company gives out an average of £20,000 in the UK.
This form of discrimination is when a company has a set of rules, conditions or plans that seem to be indiscriminate but actually neglect or diminish the opportunity of a protected characteristic. One example would be if a training opportunity was only offered to those living in a specific area for no apparent reason, which happened to be where no employees from the BAME community lived.
This form of discrimination is usually not entirely obvious, as there are usually other reasons the company has made that decision. However, bringing up the fact it could be indirect discrimination will likely make the company rethink their position and open up the opportunity.
Discrimination by Association
A slightly less common, or less easily identifiable form of discrimination is where someone is discriminated against for associating with a member of a protected characteristic. For example, if someone was not offered a promotion because they are friends with a member of the BAME community, despite not being in the BAME community themselves.
There are times where action can be legally taken because of someone’s identification with or belonging to a protected characteristic. This used to be known as ‘positive discrimination’ but is now referred to as ‘positive action’.
An example is where an employer is unable to choose between two candidates as they are equally competent at fulfilling a new role or promotion. However, if one of the candidates was from a protected characteristic, such as being part of the BAME community, the employer is legally allowed to choose that candidate on that basis alone. This is known as a ‘tie breaker’, which also means that someone cannot be chosen because they belong to a protected characteristic if they are less competent than another candidate.