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Employment Appeal Tribunal ruling could make employers liable for racial discrimination

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Employers could be liable for racial discrimination if they fail to consider applicants from outside the European Union.

An Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) upheld a finding of indirect race discrimination against law firm Osborne Clarke because it had a policy not to process applications from candidates from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) seeking training contracts.

According to law firm Wedlake Bell "many" companies, especially small and medium enterprises do not consider applicants that require a Visa to enter the UK due to prohibitive costs. And without a dedicated HR professional to guide the process, many small organisations cannot afford the cost and time needed to recruit from outside the EU or EEA.

But the EAT's ruling will prove costly for employers as they must now provide evidence they have sufficiently considered foreign applicants. Especially considering The Home Office's decision last week to limit the number of visas granted to foreign workers, to quell the recession.

Richard Isham, partner in the employment team at Wedlake Bell, said: "It is unfortunate this decision will increase costs for employers, especially as we are in recession.

"Even if a non-UK, EU or EEA candidate is chosen, the chances are very high that the Home Office will reject the Visa application, so it is questionable whether this decision works for the benefit of British business."