Race Equality in the UK
This page covers
- the legacy of Race Equality Legislation and Policy in the UK;
- it’s impact on organisations and individuals; and
- provide you with some useful resources that will help you to understand how the legislation works in practice, understand your legal duties and consider any practical changes that you may be required to make to ensure that you are able to demonstrate that you are meeting those duties.
Richemont Race Discrimination Case
Cheryl Spragg, an employee of Richemont (UK), which owns luxury brands including Cartier and Montblanc, was spied on by her employer, denied the opportunity to progress within the company and was bullied by HR and other staff members as a result of her skin colour. Following a back injury, Richemont placed Cheryl under close surveillance for a number of days, following her to a wedding and even receiving images of her home and garden. Undoubtedly, this act was unnerving, intimidating and upsetting for her.
Cheryl was also refused internal progression on the basis that she was black and had applied for the same post on three different occasions, with all three of the recruitment decisions being made by the same people. It was found that the company had a preference for white Europeans and the judge ruling in Cheryl’s claim against race discrimination in the workplace agrees that this was an act of direct discrimination since there was a lack of transparency and properly structured processes for scoring, marking and record-keeping as well as a complete absence of interview records. The HR team had no equality and diversity training and there were no black staff members at a senior level or on the HR team. In addition, Cheryl had been subject to bullying when other staff members refused to enter a lift with her which was found as a violation of her dignity. These employees were said to have laughed and pulled faces when Cheryl held the lift door open for them – they walked straight passed and waited for another lift to come. This incident meets the very definition of harassment under the Equality Act 2010.
When Cheryl complained to the HR department about the various events which she considered to be discriminatory, she was told to look for a new job and was accused of causing her colleagues distress. She was even told in an email from the HR team that she wasn’t the only ‘black member of staff’ within her team and no other racism allegations had been raised in the past.
After the judge heard Cheryl’s case and considered the evidence, she won her claim and was awarded compensation for the traumatic and humiliating experience.