Discrimination on the ground of race under the Equality Act 2010

What does the Act prohibit?

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination (whether direct or indirect), harassment and victimisation on the ground of a person’s race.

What is meant by race?

Race includes a person’s colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins.

What is direct discrimination?

Direct discrimination occurs where a person treats another person less favourably than he or she treats or would treat others on grounds of their race. This will include segregating a person from others by reason of their race and where a job is only open to people of a certain racial group.

However, conduct which would on the face of it amount to direct discrimination is permitted if the conduct amounts to a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. For example, it may be an occupational requirement of a certain job that a person be of a certain race.

What is indirect discrimination?

Indirect discrimination occurs where a provision, criterion or practice, which is applied or would apply equally to persons not of the same race, puts persons of a particular race at a disadvantage. This may include, for example, introducing a dress code without good reason, which discriminates against persons of a certain race.

Conduct which can be shown to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim is, however, permitted.

What is harassment?

Harassment occurs where a person is subjected to unwanted conduct related on grounds of their race which has the purpose or effect of violating their dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for him. This may include, for example, making racist jokes in the workplace.

What is victimisation?

Victimisation occurs where a person is subjected to a detriment by reason of the fact that he has (or it is believed that he has or may) carried out one of the following acts:

  • brought or given evidence or information in proceedings brought under the Act;

  • the doing of something for the purposes of or in connection with the Act.

  • made an allegation that a person has contravened the Act.

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For more information on:

  • In what circumstances does the Act apply?
  • Employment
  • Other situations
  • How is the Act enforced?