Discrimination in Jersey on the grounds of race is now
Jersey's new Race Discrimination Law has come into force
today (1 September).
The legislation has a very wide ambit in that it covers paid
employment but also training, voluntary work, education, provision
of goods or services, letting of property, partnerships and
You'll be aware that it is no longer lawful to discriminate
on the basis of skin colour.
However, the definition of race is much wider than just colour
and includes ethnic and national origins. This means that it will
no longer be possible to treat foreign nationals or people with
different national origins less favourably than locals.
The main exception is where the discrimination is allowed under
some other piece of legislation such as the Control of Housing and
It is not just discrimination against foreign nationals that are
covered. The law specifically provides that discrimination on the
grounds of Jersey origin is also prohibited. This means that
prejudice against locals in employment and in the provision or
goods and services is outlawed.
Discrimination in this context includes the application of an
apparently neutral criterion that has a disproportionate and
negative impact on people of a particular national origin.
Employers should take care with 'word of mouth'
recruitment referral schemes where the existing workforce does not
reflect the national demographic of the rest of the Island.
Similarly, employers should be careful to avoid stereotyping
national groups as having particular employment traits.
The Employment and Discrimination Tribunal will have the power
to award damages up to Ł10,000, so breaches of the law could
be a costly mistake.
We recommend that you take steps to ensure racism is not
expressed in the workplace and that it is not within your
firm's culture for racial discrimination to take place.
For example, don't leave it to the employee who is the butt
of discriminatory jokes to say it is unacceptable. Create a culture
where diversity is respected and people speak out if they feel that
a colleague is uncomfortable with they way they are being
Although the law comes into effect today - and so only instances
of discrimination taking place after today would be brought to the
new Employment and Discrimination Tribunal - you should be aware
that opinions expressed prior to that date may well be taken into
account as evidence of a discriminatory culture.
Work-related social events could be a minefield, as the
liability of an employer may be extended outside formal working
hours and premises.
Jersey's Discrimination legislation, which begins with Race
on 1 September, will be followed by Gender (including maternity and
flexible working) in September 2015, then age and disability at a
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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