Racial discrimination against a British national

A job seeker was the subject of racial discrimination after a recruiter refused to accept her birth certificate as proof of her right to work, despite it showing she was a British national, an employment tribunal has ruled.

The Employment Tribunal determined that the recruitment agency’s rejection of the candidate’s birth certificate and failure to take her application further was “unfavourable treatment”. The judge ruled that on the balance of probabilities, the agencies called the candidate to assess her level of “spoken English” and that the decision to reject her birth certificate was “motivated consciously or unconsciously” by her ethnicity.

The candidate submitted a scanned certified copy of an entry in the Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages, certified and issued by the deputy superintendent registrar, which detailed her place of birth and her parents’ nationality, thereby adhering to the home office requirements for eligibility to work in the UK.

The judge ruled that the claim of unlawful discrimination regarding the rejection of her birth certificate was successful and awarded her £18,405.80 in compensation, including injury to feelings.

Employers are under an obligation to carry out thorough checks on any potential new employee to ensure they have the right to work in the UK, and a failure to correctly follow these processes can lead to a hefty fine of £20,000.  However, assumptions must not be made about a person’s right to work from their ethnicity or national origins.  Regardless of an employee’s ethnicity, the same procedures must be followed when carrying out right to work checks to ensure there can be no conscious or unconscious discrimination.

Should you have any questions on eligibility to work in the UK, speak to one of our qualified consultants on 0800 995 121.

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