Race, religion and employment
This factsheet was last updated in February 2013.
What are race and religion in an equal opportunity sense?
Race and religion are two separate concepts within the law, but are dealt with together in this factsheet for convenience.
For the purposes of the Equality Act 2010, race includes colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins.
The legislation does not give a list of religious and belief groups that are covered under the Act. However, religion includes not having any religion. Hence, an individual can be discriminated against if the individual has no religious belief. A religion must have a clear structure and belief system. ‘Belief’ means any religious or philosophical belief, or a lack of such belief. To fall under the Act, a belief must usually satisfy a number of criteria, including that it is an essential aspect of the way in which a person behaves in conducting their life.
Examples gleaned from previous case law in this area confirm that the following religions or beliefs have been covered under the discrimination provisions: Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Pagan, Humanist and Atheist beliefs. Other beliefs which have been protected by the Act include environmental or ‘green’ beliefs in the importance of climate change, animal welfare and anti-hunting beliefs, spiritualism, and beliefs in the psychic field.
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