Over recent weeks the press have been reporting on the racial harassment Azeem Rafiq suffered at Yorkshire County Cricket Club. This post explores what racial harassment is and the initial steps an employee or worker can take in trying to resolve the issue.
What is Racial Harassment?
Race is one of the protected characteristics covered by the Equality Act 2010. The term Race includes colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins. The Act sets out what is termed “prohibited conduct”. In relation to Race this includes direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, and victimisation.
Harassment is defined under the Act as unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic (Race) which has the purpose or effect of:
- violating a person’s dignity;
- or creating for them an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
Unwanted conduct can include a wide range of unwelcome or uninvited behaviour including written or spoken words or abuse (this could include text or WhatsApp messages, emails, notes or letters), physical gestures, jokes, pranks, mimicry, facial expressions, or any other acts which impact on a person.
The term “related to” is given a very broad interpretation. It can include conduct which is related to a protected characteristic, whether the employee or worker in question has the characteristic themselves. An example could be that a worker witnesses a colleague making racist comments. Whilst not directed at the worker in question, the comment was still related to a protected characteristic and so a claim of harassment could still be pursued.
It is important to note that regardless of the intended purpose, unwanted conduct will still amount to harassment if it has the effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. It is no defence to say no harm was intended.
What Can You Do?
- If you feel able and it is safe to do so, ask the perpetrator to stop and explain how their conduct is making you feel.
- If asking the perpetrator to stop does not work, then you could try speaking to your Line Manager to try and informally resolve the situation. If your Line Manager is involved, then elevate to the next available Manager. It may also be wise at this early opportunity to contact your trade union, your HR department, any internal wellbeing or counselling services, ACAS, the Citizens Advice Bureau or the Human Rights Commission for support in getting the situation resolved and the harassment stopped.
- If an informal approach does not work then review your employer’s formal policies and procedures to see if they have a Grievance Procedure, Dignity at Work Procedure or Bully & Harassment Procedure (or other). You should then follow the appropriate procedure which will usually require you to submit a written complaint about the treatment you are receiving, along with how you would like to see it resolving. Your employer should then investigate your complaint and provide a suitable outcome. Again, obtain support throughout this process from any of the sources listed under the preceding bullet point. Similarly, the solicitors at Lincs Law all have extensive experience of advising employees through internal processes such as these.
- If the formal approach does not work, you may seek redress in the Employment Tribunal by submitting a claim under the Equality Act 2010 for racial harassment and / or victimisation. Please remember that internal policies or procedures may take some time to conclude, but a claim for racial harassment or victimisation must be submitted to the Employment Tribunal no later than 3 months less 1 day from the date of the last act complained of. Ensure you take appropriate legal advice so your limitation date is not missed.
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Can Help You
If you are experiencing any difficulties at work, please contact Lincs Law Employment Solicitors on 01522 440512 for a free initial telephone consultation. Alternatively, for more information about who we are and how we help people, please visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/services/employees/
Specialist Employment Solicitor
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors, Lincoln