How to Avoid Discrimination in Recruitment

By Matthew Reymes Cole
13 Feb 2017

A recent BBC report has found that a job seeker with an ‘English-sounding name’ was offered three times the number of interviews as an identical applicant with a ‘Muslim name’.

CVs were sent from fake candidates “Mohamed Allam” and “Adam Henton”, with four interviews offered to Mohamed, and twelve to Adam. The recent report concurs with previous academic reports concerning the matter, which have found that British Muslims are less proportionately represented in managerial and professional occupations than any other religious group. Following the findings, and considering academic results before it, Croner’s Head of Legal Advisory, Paul Holcroft, warns that inadvertent discrimination can bring the same severity of consequences as deliberate discrimination. “The recent report is worrying for employers for a number of reasons. The findings have attracted a lot of attention from various sources because they have been highlighted on well-known platforms, like the BBC. “In actual fact, mindless discrimination happens on a daily basis. If an employer chooses to disregard one CV in favour of another, they must have tangible and solid evidence as to why they have made that decision. “Even though we have seen Employment Tribunal claims drop dramatically since the introduction of fees, if a claimant believes that they have been discriminated against, even at the very early stages of a recruitment process, it’s going to be very difficult for an employer to form a solid argument if they lack evidence. Given the sheer volume of CVs that an employer may deal with when recruiting for a position, it is clear to see the immediate difficulty with documenting the thought process behind rejecting or selecting an application, let alone remembering it. Paul advises: “Recording all decisions throughout the recruitment process will bring extra admin work and time initially, which I would assume is what puts a majority of employers off. “Having said that, the time that an Employment Tribunal can span is unattainable, so in the grand scheme of things, keeping sufficient notes when sifting through applications would most likely not compare to a fraction of the time, effort or money a Tribunal would demand.” Amanda Beattie, Croner Litigation Field Manager, reminds: “Under the Equality Act 2010 (“the Act”), one of the protected characteristics afforded protection from discrimination is Religion and Belief. However, the other protected characteristics under the Act can also be relevant and susceptible to discrimination in the recruitment process. “Under the Act, it is unlawful to directly discriminate against a person by treating them less favourably than they would treat others because of their religion or belief or another of the protected characteristics. Similarly, it is unlawful to indirectly discriminate against a person by applying a provision, criteria or practice (“PCP”), which puts that person and others who all hold a certain religion or belief or another protected characteristic at a disadvantage, which is not a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.” Employers should remember that the Act applies equally to employees, workers and job applicants. Therefore, it is important for employers to keep accurate records of why job applicants were unsuccessful and ensure that the reason for the rejection is not discriminatory.

About the Author

Matthew Reymes-Cole

Matt joined Croner in 2007 as an employment law consultant and has advised clients of all sizes on all aspects of employment law. He has worked within management positions since 2017 and currently overseas a team within the litigation department, whilst continuing to support a number of clients directly.

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