A union boss is calling for tougher regulation after a BBC survey showed ethnic minority applicants still face major discrimination in the jobs market
TUC boss Brendan Barber called for tougher rules for private firms
CVs from six fictitious candidates - who were given traditionally white, black African or Muslim names - were sent to 50 firms by Radio Five Live.
White "candidates" were far more likely to be given an interview than similarly qualified black or Asian "names".
TUC boss Brendan Barber called for new laws in the face of "shocking" results.
The employers targeted by the undercover survey were selected at random from newspaper adverts and recruitment websites.
Many of the firms were well known and the jobs covered a range of fields, Radio Five Live said.
All the applicants were given the same standard of qualifications and experience, but their CVs were presented differently.
Almost a quarter of applications by two candidates given traditionally "white" names - Jenny Hughes and John Andrews - resulted in interview offers.
But only 9% of the "Muslim" applications, by the fictitious Fatima Khan and Nasser Hanif, prompted a similar response.
Letters from the "black" candidates, Abu Olasemi and Yinka Olatunde, had a 13% success rate.
Mr Barber, general secretary of the TUC, suggested private firms should have to follow the same anti-discrimination guidelines as the public sector.
He said: "Statistics as shocking as these suggest that many people recruiting for the private sector firms are harbouring inherently racist views.
"Public sector bodies have to prove they are doing all they can to eliminate race discrimination.
"Until the Race Relations (Amendment) Act is extended to the private sector, black and Asian people will continue to be treated unfairly and will be denied
the opportunity to succeed at work."
Professor Muhammad Anwar, of Warwick University's centre for research in ethnic relations, said the survey was proof of a recent rise in anti-Muslim feeling.
He said: "I think there is a trend now or a shift from racial discrimination to more religious or cultural type discrimination.
"Certainly after 9/11 there has been a tremendous difference.
"When people look at Muslim men they may think again about whether that person should be invited for interview."
The radio producer who carried out the survey said he had been "surprised by the sheer extent" of religious and racial discrimination it uncovered.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: "The government in general recognises that employment discrimination continues to be a barrier to work for some ethnic minorities.
"As a department it is an issue we take seriously and we have set up the Ethnic Minority Employment Taskforce as a result and in response to the recommendations of the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit.
"It is early days but we are working to make things better."