The Race Relations Act 1976

The purpose of the Race Relations Act 1976 was to protect people from racial discrimination. It defined racial discrimination as including discrimination on the grounds of colour, race, nationality, ethnicity or national origin. This piece of legislation was introduced to enable victims to take legal action when they were discriminated against. It protected people in employment, education, housing, advertising and the provision of goods and services.

Some people that we interviewed in Wellingborough were already aware that the Race Relations Act 1976 and other similar legislation existed. Below are some responses from members of the community who were asked if they knew about the Race Relations Act 1976.

“I’ve heard of it. It’s about treating everybody equally.” Rekha Bapodra

“From what I knew it was new ways, that the Government wanted to tackle the issue [of racism].” Rebekah Williams

“My mum explained to me what it was. It’s basically laws giving black people some rights in this country. I had a sort of rough idea of what it was before I started (working at NREC).” Christopher Fray

“It wasn’t until I started doing the admin work that I got to see letters as I said, talking about things like the Race Relations Act” Jenny Sebastian

Andrew described the Race Relations Act 1976 as “a set of minimum standards for the way in which people in this country should treat each other and given those minimum standards, those ‘floor’ standards, the force of law, has enabled us to – I won’t say eradicate, but certainly minimise, some of the worst and most obnoxious forms of [racial] discrimination.” Andrew Scarborough


We also asked members of the community if they had considered using the Race Relations Act 1976 or similar legislation to challenge racial discrimination. You can find some responses below.

Pratima explained that she had not considered relying on legislation due to a lack of awareness about relevant laws. “I guess the early awareness wasn’t there to tell you what the legal steps you can take or even if there was legislation…” Pratima Dattani 

However, Vinod remembers friends who relied on legislation to bring a case against their employer after they suffered lots of harassment. “We saw some cases going to court. Most of the cases that went to court were employment related. Race relations at work. There was a family living in Hemmingwell, an Indian family. Friends of ours. They were harassed so much.” Vinod Dattani