Caste Discrimination: Claim successful under the Equality Act 2010
In December 2014, the EAT held in the case of Chandhok v Tirkey [UKEAT/0190/14/KN] that caste discrimination, which is not expressly prohibited under the Equality Act 2010, could be unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 but only where caste is part of a protected characteristic, such as ethnic origin.
An appeal was made to the EAT by Mr and Mrs Chandhok following the Tribunal’s refusal to strike out Ms Tirkey’s claim that she had been mistreated by them, in part, because she was from a lower caste, on the basis that caste was not a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.
The substantive claim has now been heard by the Employment Tribunal and all of Ms Tirkey’s claims were upheld, including her complaint of race discrimination, which was brought on the basis that she had been treated fairly appallingly (according to the findings of the Tribunal) because she was from a lower caste. In addition, her claims for unlawful deductions from wages for failing to pay the National Minimum Wage, unfair dismissal and religious discrimination (amongst others) succeeded. The Tribunal calculated the unpaid wages relating to the failure to pay the NMW and awarded the Claimant £183,773.53. There will be a further hearing to assess compensation in relation to the other claims.
The Equality Act 2010 does not expressly prohibit caste discrimination. The consultation in relation to amending the Equality Act to expressly prohibit caste discrimination, which was promised by the Government in July 2014, still has not commenced and there is no indication as to when it might. This case is a useful authority for any worker who feels they have been treated less favourably because of caste, potentially allowing the claim to be pursued as a race discrimination claim on the basis of ethnic origins.
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