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16 Racial Discrimination

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1. Introduction

2. When discrimination can happen

3. What the law says

4. Discrimination at work

5. Harassment at work

6. Discrimination when renting or buying a house or flat

7. Discrimination at school or college

8. Discrimination when buying goods or services

9. What you can do about discrimination

If you have been discriminated against, first think about what you want to be done. Depending on how you were discriminated against, you may want:

  • your job back;
  • compensation;
  • an apology; or
  • a clear sign that an organisation won’t discriminate in the same way in future.

Whatever you want, you must try to sort out the matter first with the person or organisation that has discriminated against or harassed you. If the problem is with your employer, this means you must use the organisation’s grievance procedure or make a written statement to the employer. If the problem is with a service provider, you must write to them with details of the complaint and the amount of compensation you’re seeking.

If this way doesn’t get you what you want, you may be able to take your case to:

  • an employment tribunal if it is about a job; or
  • the county court.

The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) was set up by the government to promote racial equality. It can advise and help you if you have been discriminated against because of your race. You can also get help from:

  • your union if you have one (if it is about a job);
  • your local law centre;
  • a Citizens Advice Bureau;
  • your local Racial Equality Council; or
  • a solicitor or adviser displaying the Community Legal Service logo (see ‘The Community Legal Service’ for more about this).

See ‘Further help’ for how to contact these organisations.

The CRE can sometimes give you legal help to take your case to court, so that you don’t have to pay a solicitor to do this for you. To get this, you need to apply on a special form, available from the CRE. If it cannot give you legal representation, it may be able to put you in touch with other agencies or solicitors that deal with claims of discrimination.  

If your case is about discrimination at work, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) may also be able to help. It can try and help you reach agreement with your employer (about a promotion or compensation, for example) without you having to go to a hearing. If you cannot reach agreement with your employer (or former employer), you can still take your case to an employment tribunal. However, there are time limits for doing this (see right ‘Going to an employment tribunal’ below).

If the tribunal or court rules that you have been unlawfully discriminated against, it can award you compensation for:

  • loss of earnings or other financial loss;
  • injury to your feelings; and
  • personal injury caused by the discrimination.

10. Going to an employment tribunal

11. Going to court

12. The Human Rights Act

13. Further help

14. About this leaflet







This leaflet is published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). It was written in association with the Commission for Racial Equality.

CRE logo

The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since they were printed so the information in them may be incorrect or out of date.

Leaflet Version:  July 2017




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