Labour Research January 2009

Law Matters

Indirect discrimination changes are brought in

An amendment has been made to the UK definition of indirect discrimination.

It follows a case in Belgium brought by an anti-racist organisation against a door firm. A director of the firm made discriminatory public statements to the effect that the firm was looking to recruit fitters, but it could not employ “immigrants” because its customers would be reluctant to allow access to their premises.

The case failed in the Belgian courts because there was no proof that any individual had applied for a job and been rejected on racial grounds.

However, the European Court of Justice said national law must provide a sanction even if there is no identifiable victim, since such statements are likely to strongly dissuade certain candidates from applying.

As a result, the Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2008 have been passed to amend the definition of indirect discrimination in section 1 of the Race Relations Act 1976.

From 22 December 2008, it is unlawful for an employer to apply a provision, criterion or practice which puts or would put the claimant at a disadvantage.