Discrimination. A word we are all too familiar with in today’s society. A word which evokes images of victimisation, prejudice and the intolerance of difference.
A recent article in The Observer highlighted the extent to which individuals can be discriminated against by others. Lou Jing, a 20 year old woman of Chinese and African-American decent, took part as a contestant on Go Oriental Angel, China’s equivalent to The X Factor.
Her appearance on National Television sparked vicious abuse from the Chinese public and a mass media debate on racism in the media.
After being denied by judges the chance to continue further than the top 30 in the competition, Lou was left in shock and utter disbelief at how her own people could “cause her great harm” and expressed the wish that people would one day “tolerate her particular parentage.
Discrimination in the workplace occurs when an employer – or indeed a colleague – treats an employee less favourably in comparison to others.
This could be in relation to, for example, pay, promotion or dismissal. By law a person cannot be discriminated against because of their: gender; gender reassignment; marriage or civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity leave; sexual orientation; disability; race; colour; ethnic background; nationality; religious belief; or age. Laws such as this are designed to protect both the employee from unwanted and often painful discriminatory acts, and the employer from claims of unlawful discrimination.
The case of Chagger v Abbey National (2008) gave important guidance regarding financial loss and discrimination cases. After being made redundant in 2006 by Abbey National, Mr Chagger, who is of Indian origin, submitted a claim on the basis that his termination of employment was race discrimination.
The original employment tribunal agreed that Mr Chagger’s selection for redundancy was influenced by race and awarded him just under £2.8 million (plus interest).
Following this, The Court of Appeal sent the case back to tribunal to reconsider the amount of conpensation. Nevertheless, if it is deemed that the employee was dismissed by discrimination, damages can be considerably high as there is no upper limit on compensation for unlawful discrimination!
By: Darry Khajehpour
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