Just been hired? - Recruitment and Discrimination

Discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably than others for some reason and it is something that a lot of people unfortunately have to endure in the workplace. It is not allowed under employment law and it is important that you know your rights in this area.

Discrimination can take place before someone has even started a job. It is entirely possible for a person to be discriminated against in the recruitment process. Some employers are reluctant to employ certain candidates because of personal prejudices or because they mistakenly believe that the candidate will not be able to perform the job to the same standard as a ‘normal’ employee.

If you feel you have been passed over for a job on the basis of a discriminatory reason, you may be able to make a discrimination claim against the employer.

The law

Under employment law you cannot be discriminated against because of your:

  • Race
  • Religion or beliefs
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marital Status
  • Colour
  • Nationality
  • Ethnic origin
  • Pregnancy or maternity leave
  • Gender identity

During the recruitment process an employer cannot discriminatorily:

  • Make it harder for one group of people to apply or attend the selection process
  • Offer different terms of employment to one group of people
  • Offer specific jobs to one group of people
  • Refuse or deliberately omit to offer employment

Genuine Occupational Requirements

Employment law does make it possible for employers to discriminate during recruitment in limited circumstances. If an employer can show that the job requires a person of a specific gender, race, religion or sexual orientation in order to effectively perform the role, they can discriminate against candidates who do not fulfil the criteria. In order to be lawful, the discrimination must occur because there is a Genuine Occupational Requirement or a Genuine Occupational Qualification.

The responsibility to prove that there is a Genuine Occupational Requirement or Genuine Occupational Qualification belongs to the employer. They must be able to show that there is a genuine need for the job to be performed by a person from a specified group.

For example, a care home that provides care for elderly members of a particular ethnic community can specify that they need an employee who comes from the same community as they can justify it on the basis that the elderly residents may feel more comfortable with someone who comes from and understands their culture. Another example is when a theatre or film production company specifies that they need an actor or actress of a particular colour because of the character they are casting.

Job Justice can help

If you believe you have been discriminated against during the recruitment process, it is important to get legal advice quickly as you only have three months from the date of the discriminatory action to bring a discrimination claim in an Employment Tribunal. We can put you in touch with one of our specialist employment solicitors in your local area. Simply call us for free on 0800 533 5799 or fill in the online contact form and we’ll be in touch to discuss your situation. It's free, so do it today.

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