Lawyers have played down fears that a test case for "reverse discrimination" being heard in London will prevent hospitality operators from employing staff based on their nationality.
A former British employee of a Korean investment bank is seeking six-figure compensation amid allegations of discrimination against non-Korean employees.
The case has sparked fears that restaurants that employ staff based on their nationality to retain the authenticity of the establishment could be forced to open up their recruitment practices.
But Nick Treppass, employment law expert and partner at Howard Kennedy, said employing staff based on their ethnicity remains protected by the Race Relations Act, although he cautioned that this only applies to certain roles.
"If there is a genuine requirement for staff based on their ethnicity, such as retaining the authenticity of an ethnic restaurant, then that is fine," he told Caterersearch.
"But if this practice was extended to the back of house then things would be different. Here you would not be able to exclude someone and you would have to employ them on merit."
The employment policies of specialist restaurants has become a hot political issue in recent months.
In March, the ethnic restaurant industry expressed fears that it would be hit hard by the new points based migration system and urged the Government to ease new restrictions on migrant workers in curry restaurants.
By Christopher Walton
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