Race discrimination


Makbool Javaid, Simons Muirhead and Burton Last Modified  25 November 2015

The Equality Act 2010 provides protection against unlawful direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation for the protected characteristic of 'race'.

Key points

  • ‘Race’ is defined as including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, or being a person of a particular racial group.
  • Direct discrimination occurs where a person is treated, or would be treated, less favourably ‘because of’ race compared with others in like-for-like circumstances.
  • Indirect race discrimination occurs when a provision, criterion or practice (PCP) puts an individual of a particular race at a particular disadvantage compared with people of a different race. An employer may be able to justify the PCP as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
  • An occupational requirement, where the nature or context of the work require a person to be of a particular race, can be a lawful exception to direct and indirect discrimination. 
  • Harassment occurs where unwanted conduct related to race violates a person’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
  • Victimisation occurs where a person is subjected to a detriment for carrying out a ‘protected act’ (for example, bringing a discrimination claim). 
  • Employers are liable for acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation carried out by their employees ‘in the course of employment’.