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The Black Lives Matter movement: rising cases of workplace race discrimination

View profile for Maria Chadwick
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This past year, thousands of people across the UK have joined in protest to show support for anti-racism movements, most notably in response to the George Floyd tragedy which took place in the United States in May 2020.

Last week, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) reported statistics which showed that there were 3,641 employment tribunal cases brought by individual claimants for race discrimination in 2020.

This shows a 48% increase from the previous year, a 22% increase from 2018 and a 79% increase from 2017.

This brings to question whether the rise in race discrimination proceedings could be linked to a consequent raising of awareness of race discrimination in the workplace as a result of movements such as Black Lives Matter (BLM). Alongside this, there have been increasing concerns voiced over the treatment of ethnic minorities in the workplace during the covid-19 pandemic following suggestions from medical professionals that BAME individuals were more likely to become seriously ill as a result of the coronavirus.

Baroness Helena Morrissey and AJ Bell, Chair Designate and Chair of the ‘Diversity Project’, commented on these statistics to the Financial News last week and suggested that these figures may not necessarily suggest that there has been an increase in individuals being subjected to racial discrimination during this time, but that victims are perhaps being encouraged to step forward and bring their cases to tribunal because of the BLM coverage.

Either way, the number of these types of cases continues to sore and so far, in 2021, there have been 1,734 cases of race discrimination brought to the employment tribunal. These figures suggest that this year’s total will again be significantly higher than previous years.

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of their race, amongst a number of other protected characteristics.

If you feel that you have experienced discrimination in the workplace, if you require advice regarding any employment dispute, or if you require HR assistance, and would like more information, you can speak to a member of our experienced and specialist employment and discrimination team on 0161 696 6170.