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Outlawing gender and race-based workplace discrimination

Angela Jackman, Senior Law Lecturer, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Consultant and part-time partner at Simpson Millar, submitted written evidence to the Joint House of Commons Petitions and Women and Equalities Committees which has been published.
by John Stevenson (Senior Communications Officer)
The City Law School’s Angela Jackman, a Senior Law Lecturer, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Consultant and part-time solicitor and partner at Simpson Millar, has recently submitted evidence to the Joint House of Commons Petitions and Women and Equalities Committee which is conducting an inquiry into high heels and workplace dress codes.

The Parliamentary inquiry first came into being in response to a petition with 149,901 signatories, calling upon the government to make it illegal for employers to require women to wear high heels at work.

Angela Jackman thumbnailThe inquiry subsequently widened its ambit to consider workplace dress codes more generally. The House of Commons Petitions clerk contacted Jackman, after reading her article published on the City website about discriminatory attitudes to women of African descent based on their hair styles.

Jackman submitted written evidence which went before the Committee on Tuesday 12thJuly which has been published.

The proceedings can be viewed at this weblink.

Her evidence takes the following points into consideration:

- Insight into the issues partly due to her conduct of the high profile school exclusion judicial review 'cornrows case', G v St Gregory's Catholic Science College [2011] EWHC 1452 (Admin);

- The psychological and emotional impact of employers forcing individuals to compromise their heritage and culture.

Difficult to challenge discrimination

She notes that a significant feature of this type of discrimination is that it is generally not documented but comprises verbal or actual implemented practices which are therefore harder to challenge, and adds that it is important to recognise the vulnerability of employees if they try to challenge employers, especially in the current difficult economic climate.

At the Committee’s first evidence session, an interviewee recounted the following statement made by a recruitment agency for Harrods to a black woman:

'You can’t work for me unless you have your hair chemically relaxed, because your hair, as it is, is not professional enough'.

"We just sat there and nodded and agreed because we needed a job.  People did what they were told."

For more on the business of the Joint Committee, please visit this weblink.
Judicial review

Judicial review is a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.

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