Security guards' indirect race discrimination claim

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Indirect race discrimination at work

Indirect race discrimination is where a company policy or practice negatively affects a group of people of a certain race.

An example of indirect race discrimination at work would be:

A company policy that prohibits "unkempt hairstyles" in the workplace, such as an afro.

There have been numerous Employment Tribunal cases that make a claim for indirect race discrimination. We’ll look at one such claim below.

The background

This case was brought against a university by a group of majority Black and brown security guards, who had been outsourced by the university.

The main argument was around the outsourced security guards' inferior pay rates and employment terms and conditions than the majority white in-house staff.

Compared to the in-house staff, outsourced workers received three weeks sick pay rather than six months, two weeks less annual leave, a 3% pension contribution instead of 15% and no extra pay for working unsociable hours. The outsourced guards were also paid less than the minimum wage.

By outsourcing the work to majority Black and brown workers on inferior pay rates and employment terms compared to the majority white in-house workers, they claimed this policy amounted to indirect race discrimination.

The outsourced guards took successive weeks of strike action, direct action and walked off the job as a campaign for getting equal rights.

They ultimately took their employer to a Tribunal after all previous attempts to reach a solution failed, claiming indirect race discrimination.

The result

Their indirect race discrimination claim was successful.

The Tribunal found that there was no material difference between in-house and outsourced workers, therefore there was no reason not to pay the outsourced workers minimum wage.

This policy greatly affected Black and brown workers more than white workers. 66.6% of Black and brown workers were not paid minimum wage, whereas 93.3% of white workers were.

Important things to remember about this case

The security guards tried multiple actions, like going on strike, to resolve this case before going to the Tribunal. You have different ways to resolve your case other than going to a Tribunal.

You don’t need to file a claim alone if you’re not the only person at your workplace going through the same employment issue.

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