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Equality Law Briefing

ROTA’s Equality Law Project is pleased to announce the re-launch of its Equality Law Briefing. We aim to provide you information on developments relevant to race equality and the role of the Equality Act 2010 and other relevant legislation.

The Equality Law Project supports front line organisations to understand and use the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act 2010 is the most fundamental overhaul ofprevious UK anti-discrimination and equality law.

For further information please contact Poornima Karunacadacharan, Senior Policy Officer on 020 7697 4066 or email


Equalities in Focus

Is Race back on the Agenda?

On 24th June we woke up to the announcement that the UK had voted by 52% to 48% to leave the European Union. While reasons for votes to leave were varied and were not solely based on race, the rhetoric from the leave campaign played its part and the resulting rise in hate crime should have been anticipated. In recent months we have witnessed criminal damage to the Polish Social and Cultural Association in Hammersmith, leaflets left on cars outside a primary school in Huntingdon with the words “no more Polish vermin” and the brutal murder of Arkadiusz Jozwik in Harlow. It is not surprising that The Guardian reported that ‘European Embassies in the UK log more alleged hate crimes since Brexit vote’. The Equality and Human Rights Commission report on Prejudice and Unlawful Behaviour notes that “Racial discrimination is the highest reported motivation for hate crime in England/Wales and Scotland”.

A number of announcements have been made during this time in relation to race equality which may give the impression that race is back on the agenda. These include the publication of the new cross government 'Hate Crime Action Plan'; The Home Affairs Committee inquiry into ‘Hate Crime and Its Violent Consequences’; Theresa May’s government audit to tackle racial disparities in public service outcomes and the Lammy Review into overrepresentation of BAMER communities in the criminal justice system, to name a few. However, the announcement by Home Secretary Amber Rudd at the Conservative party conference that there will be a renewed focus on “taking action to help communities affected by high levels of immigration, and stopping people coming here that threaten our security” suggests that despite these initiatives the environment for BAMER communities in the UK is likely to remain a hostile one.

ROTA will be following the course of these and other initiatives with keen interest. We have already made a submission to the Home Affairs Committee's 'Hate Crime and Its Violence Consequences' inquiry. (This will be available on the ROTA website when it is published). The Committee is still accepting written submissions and we strongly encourage you to submit a response.

We have also submitted evidence to the Education Select Committee Inquiry into Multi Academy Trusts, See here, which draws attention to:

  • The lack of representation and influence Black, Minority Ethnic & Refugee communities have within the formal governance structures of MATs and its disproportionate impact on BAMER pupils; and
  • The lack of accountability and transparency on how  MATs performance in relation to meeting the equalities needs of the pupils and in meeting its Public Sector Equality Duty (s.149 of the Equality Act 2010).

We have published a literature review and analysis of the written submissions to this Inquiry - Equality and Inclusion in the Academies Programme: 2016 See here, which we hope you will find useful in your work.

We are continuing our research into equality and inclusion in education and would welcome your input. For more information, please email Poornima Karunacadacharan at

ROTA will continue to keep ‘race on the agenda’ by strengthening the voice of BAMER communities at policy and practice level through increasing the capacity of BAMER organisations to influence decisions that impact on the communities they serve.


Case Law

Abubakar v Makro Serlf Service Wholesalers Ltd

Employment Tribunal

9 May 2016

Race Discrimination: Direct

Mr Abubakar was employed in a butchery department at the respondent retail store. In September 2014 he applied for promotion to the role of supervisor. He heard nothing about his application but in the following February another employee, who was white, was recruited to the post even though according to Mr Abubakar’s knowledge he had no experience of their area of work and left within a few weeks of his appointment.

Mr Abubakar brought a grievance against Ms Walker, the store manager, complaining that his application had not been considered because he is black. His grievance was upheld on grounds that his application had been dealt with incompetently, but not that there had been any race discrimination.

The role was advertised again but the title had changed to butchery manager. Mr Abubakar applied. He was interviewed by Ms Walker who did not take any notes and did not complete the scoring on the recruitment form. She told Mr Abubakar that he had been unsuccessful. He suggested that he be taken on as a trainee manager to enable him to show that he had the abilities needed to be a manager, but Ms Walker refused.

In the absence of a butchery supervisor or manager, Mr Abubakar had taken on extra responsibilities. He went to see Ms Walker to discuss the progress he had made and that he was up to the promoted role. It was at subsequent meetings with Ms Walker that Mr Abubakar became concerned. He is a Muslim and as the festival of Eid was approaching he wanted to get time off. On that occasion, Ms Walker asked him about being a Muslim and handling pork and other non-halal meat products. Mr Abubakar said it did not concern him. When discussing possible promotion Ms Walker said that she had to make sure “our customers are fully comfortable working with you and that they will understand your accent”. Mr Abubakar took this to be a reference to his African accent.

Subsequently, a Mr Franklin was appointed as butchery supervisor. He had management experience but was not experienced as a butcher. He too is white. He was not interviewed for the role. In the event, Mr Franklin did not take the job and in January 2016 Mr Peter Joyce, who is also white, was appointed to the role of butchery manager.

Mr Abubakar claimed direct discrimination on the grounds of race and religion or belief.

The tribunal accepted Mr Franklin as a comparator. Although Mr Franklin had more managerial experience, the claimant had considerably more butchery experience – which had been a requirement in the original advertisement. The tribunal also took into account the fact that all those appointed to the role since the claimant expressed an interest were white.

The tribunal also considered Ms Walker’s attitude to the claimant. It found that at the interview she did not take any notes, but she told the tribunal that, had she scored him, she would have given Mr Abubakar the lowest score across the form as “the interview had been so poor”. This, the tribunal said, “indicates a failure to appreciate the claimant’s skills and experience, which were not, as she suggested, irrelevant to the post”. Also, it added, her failure to even consider the claimant at the time Mr Franklin was offered the post was “indicative of her attitude to the claimant and infer from this and the surrounding circumstances, including the comments about his accent, that there are facts which strongly suggest less favourable treatment because of the claimant’s race”.

These factors were sufficient to shift the burden of proof to the respondent, and as it had been unable to show that race played no part in the decision not to appoint the claimant, his claim of direct race discrimination was upheld.

The tribunal accepted that Ms Walker had made the comment about the claimant, as a Muslim, handling pork and other meat, but found that it was not of any great significance to Ms Walker and, more importantly, it did not cause the claimant any great concern at the time. The tribunal therefore rejected the claim of direct discrimination because of religion or belief.

Equality Law Reports, Michael Rubenstein Publishing Ltd, [2016] EqLR 271.

News and Events

Equality, Diversity and Racism in the Workplace report

The report outlines the varied forms of racism within UK workplaces and provides employers with actions for addressing racism and racial inequality from the boardroom to the shop floor.

Download the full report

EHRC Research report: Recruitment in Britain

Examining employers’ practices and attitudes to employing UK-born and foreign-born workers.

Download the full report.

Tackling exploitation in the workplace: relevant legislation for organisations working with BAME groups

15th November 2016

A seminar examining relevant legislation and strategies organisations can use to support their BAMER service users to tackle exploitation and discrimination in the workplace.  The focus will be on issues faced by agency workers, hospitality industry workers, and other sectors where BAMER and migrant workers are vulnerable to exploitation.

Book your place here.

Many people who seek refugee status in the UK have long-term health conditions that mean they are disabled people.

HEAR Network are holding a FREE event on 21st November to connect organisations working with refugees, those working with disabled people and our statutory colleagues. To book your place or for more details, see here.





In this bulletin

Equalities in Focus
Case Law
News and Events

Race on the Agenda

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356 Holloway Road
London, N7 6PA
United Kingdom


Patron: Lord Victor Adebowale CBE
Patron: Dr Richard Stone

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