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Exemplary recruitment process helps defeat race discrimination claim

In Mehenni v Circle Anglia Ltd, Mehenni (M), who is of Algerian origin, was one

In Mehenni v Circle Anglia Ltd, Mehenni (M), who is of Algerian origin, was one of 179 applicants shortlisted for a customer service role. Two managers reviewed the shortlist to decide whom to invite to an interview. Four specific criteria were used, the managers were not given any of the applicants’ equal opportunity monitoring data, the details in the application forms were compared with the job description/person specification and the reasons for decisions recorded on a spreadsheet. M did not get invited to an interview and he claimed race discrimination.

The tribunal rejected his claim as the records demonstrated that he had not been treated less favourably because of race in the same circumstances as the chosen comparator of a different race, Ms Oseh (O). M did not give any examples to show that he had the necessary skills and experience to deal with a high volume of telephone enquiries on a daily basis, whereas O had provided specific examples of how she had actually been able to deal with a large number of customer enquiries in her previous jobs. The tribunal found that the employer had carried out a fair, transparent and objective recruitment selection process, totally free from bias, and ordered M to pay £1,000 in costs.

This case shows that operating a transparent and carefully recorded recruitment process, which includes objectively justified decisions, will help to provide a strong defence to discrimination claims and show that the employer took reasonable steps to prevent any discrimination taking place. Here the employer had recorded every stage of the process, used clear criteria throughout, based decisions on an easy-to-understand scoring system requiring objectively justified marks and used two managers in the selection process to avoid bias, who were not aware of the applicants’ ethnic monitoring data.

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