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The Government has announced that it will start consulting on caste discrimination, but is this really necessary?

Under the Equality Act 2010, caste is not a protected characteristic.

On 2 September 2016, the Government announced it would be proceeding with a full consultation on caste discrimination. However, is this really necessary in light of the case of Chandhok and Another v Tirkey [2015]?

In this case, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that an employee could bring a claim for caste discrimination.

Summary of facts

Mrs and Mrs Chandhok employed a domestic worker, Ms Tirkey. Her caste was Adivasi, ‘a servant caste’, and is considered to be a low caste. Ms Tirkey brought claims in the Employment Tribunal alleging that she had been treated unfavourably on the grounds of her race and religion. She subsequently amended her claim to bring an additional claim of caste discrimination on the grounds that she was treated badly because of her caste.

Mrs and Mrs Chandhok applied to the Employment Tribunal to strike out the claim on the basis that caste was not a protected characteristic and did not fall within the definition of race within the Equality Act. The Employment Tribunal did not strike out the claims.

Mr and Mrs Chandhok appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. The Employment Appeal Tribunal also dismissed the appeal.

Interestingly, the Judge held that Ms Tirkey could bring a claim for caste discrimination as it came within the definition of ethnic and national origin within the definition of race under the Equality Act.

Impact on employers

Notwithstanding the announcement of the consultation, employers should nevertheless be mindful that employees can bring claims for discrimination relating to their caste under the definition of race within the Equality Act.

If you have any questions regarding this article, please contact:

Sejal Raja
Partner and Head of Employment
T. 020 7227 7410


This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.

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