Caste Discrimination Unlawful under the Equality Act 2010
Caste discrimination is unlawful under the race discrimination provisions of the Equality Act 2010.
In Chandhok v Tirkey, T claimed that she had been discriminated against because of her caste. Her employer sought to strike out her claim on the ground that caste discrimination is not unlawful under the Equality Act 2010 (“EqA" ). Whilst there is a power in the EqA for the Government to make caste discrimination unlawful, this power has not yet been exercised.
The employment tribunal allowed the claim to proceed and the employer appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal ("EAT").
The EAT ruled that the claim could be brought under the law as it stands as it falls under the “ethnic or national origins” limb of race in the EqA. It rejected the employer’s argument that the fact the Government had decided to legislate to clarify that caste is an aspect of race, but had not yet done so, meant caste discrimination was not currently unlawful.
The EAT’s decision clarifies that caste discrimination is already unlawful. Nevertheless, the Government plans to legislate by summer 2015 to amend the EqA to provide specifically that caste is an aspect of race. Consultation on proposed legislation was planned to take place in the autumn of 2014 but to date no consultation has been issued.
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