12 current and former tech employees of Facebook have accused it of creating a hostile culture  of discrimination, alleging that "anyone who is non-white is made to feel fear for their job".

Guidance from ACAS highlights that both employers and employees should be mindful that workers will often come from different backgrounds, which may involve cultural differences including in respect of customs and values.  

Race (which includes colour, nationality, ethnic origins and national origins) is one of the nine "protected characteristics" covered by the Equality Act 2010.

Direct race discrimination is essentially treating someone less favourably because of:

  • their actual race; 
  • their perceived race; and/or 
  • the race of someone with whom they associate 

The Equality Act also makes the following unlawful:

  • indirect discrimination - where a provision, criteria or practice applies to all but particularly disadvantages a group of a particular race;
  • harassment - unwanted conduct related to race has the purpose or effect of violating an individual's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual; and 
  • victimisation - unfair treatment of an employee who has complained or supported a complaint of race discrimination.

What can employers do?

Employers should ensure that they provide appropriate training for staff which covers an understanding of what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and ensure that they have appropriate policies and procedures in place to address any issues in the workplace.