by Adam McCullochHeightened awareness of racial discrimination in response to the murder of George Floyd in the US is likely to be a contributory factor behind the rise of race discrimination employment tribunal cases Photo: Shutterstock
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Race discrimination claims that reached employment tribunals in 2020 rose by about a third, newly released figures reveal.
Responding to a freedom of information request, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) reported that there were 3,641 employment tribunal cases for race discrimination last year.
This represents a 79 percentage point increase on the figure for 2017 (2,036 cases), a 23 point increase on 2018's figure (2,948) and a 48 percentage point rise on the figure for 2019 (2,464).
So far in 2021 (1 January to 30 June) there have been 1,734 cases, indicating that a similar total to that of 2020 could be reached.
The figures were first published by the Financial News website earlier this week.
For Sarah Garth, employment partner at Keystone Law, the rise in race discrimination proceedings was a reflection of the heightened concerns over the treatment of ethnic minorities in the workplace during Covid and the widespread revulsion and anger over the killings of innocent black people in the US by police and others.
She said: “The Black Lives Matter movement has quite rightly highlighted the importance of eradicating race discrimination in all areas including the workplace and it is no doubt a significant factor leading to the surge in claims. We saw a similar surge in sex discrimination claims following the #MeToo movement.”
Garth added that senior leaders in organisations had a key role to play in minimising racial discrimination within businesses: “Employers can reduce the risk of claims by ensuring they have a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination. This message should come from senior management to set th