A job applicant at the Ritz, who had reached the final stage of the application process, withdrew his application after he was sent a grooming policy confirming that “spiky or Afro-style hair” was banned.
It has been reported that following this, the Ritz contacted the applicant and claimed that their hair stylist, who was black, had considered the documents and approved them.
The applicant expressed his shock about the language that had been used in the policy, expressing that other non-discriminatory language (for example regarding the acceptable length of hair) would have been more acceptable.
Following an investigation, the Ritz confirmed that an ‘out-of-date and incorrect’ grooming policy was regrettably sent to the applicant. The Ritz has reportedly apologised to the applicant and rescheduled his interview with them.
The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against job applicants (as well as existing workers/employees) because of a protected characteristic. There are eight protected characteristics: age, disability, race, religion or belief, gender reassignment, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership.
Therefore, if an employer discriminates against a job applicant, the applicant could bring a discrimination claim against the employer in the employment tribunal, where compensation can potentially be uncapped.
The importance of reviewing and updating handbooks/policies
The situation above highlights the importance of ensuring that handbooks and policies are regularly reviewed and kept up to date, ensuring that they are in line with updates to legislation and current affairs/developments.
If you think your staff handbook or policies need to be reviewed or updated, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Employment team at [email protected].
For more of the latest employment law updates, check out our other articles!