Brighton & Hove Council joins list of organisation barring white applicants over the colour of their skin

Another case has been added to the growing number of instances where people are being turned away from jobs just for being white.

Officials at Brighton and Hove Council turned down the application of university graduate Kieron Keenan for a job at the Royal Pavilion Museum, claiming it was “positive action” to increase its proportion of ethnic minority staff.

The museum said that applications for the £9,000-a-year post were only open to those of African, Afro-Caribbean, Asian or Chinese descent. As the job is a training job it is legal to bar applicants from certain ethnic backgrounds to encourage applicants from under-represented ethnic groups.

Keenan described the decision “astonishing”.

“To be seen to be less discriminatory towards ethnic groups the council has used a law which is blatantly discriminatory against another ethnic group,” he said.

“To get a graduate job in the history field is very hard and I have been automatically barred because of [the colour of] my skin – I am perfectly qualified to do the job,” Keenan said. “I didn’t even get the chance to apply because the advert made it clear you could not apply unless you were non-white.”

Simon Burgess, the city council leader, said: “This is a way of us giving positive trainee work to someone from a group that is under-represented at the council, which is different from barring certain races applying for a full-time post.”

However, Bert Williams, who runs the Brighton and Hove Black History Project, said the council was panicking because it had been accused of being institutionally racist in the past.

“Yes, the council must have a more representative work force, but this is not the way it should be doing it because it’s another form of discrimination,” he said.

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