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Caste Discrimination: EAT Confirms Earlier Decision

Way back in March 2014 we reported on the Employment Tribunal case of Tirkey –v- Mr & Mrs Chandok. This matter for those that recall or indeed have come across its more recent publicity in the mainstream press, concerned Ms Tirkey who was a domestic servant for Mr and Mrs Chandok, initially in India and then later in the UK. Ms Tirkey was recruited in India for the specific task of serving the couple.

Ms Tirkey was of the Adivasi people, who some in India consider to be of a servant or lower ‘caste’. Upon being brought to the UK Ms Tirkey claimed that she was being essentially kept as a modern slave. She alleged that she was paid well below the minimum wage at 11p per hour, as well that she was on call 24 hours a day, made to sleep on the floor, prevented from contacting her family or controlling her own bank account.

The matter raised the important issue of whether ‘caste’ was a protected characteristic within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010 (“EQA”). The Employment Tribunal of first instance found that this was the case, though the Chandok’s appealed on this point to the Employment Appeals Tribunal (“EAT”), which happily for Ms Tirkey upheld the original decision that caste is indeed a protected characteristic and that she could proceed with her claim against her former employers on that basis.

After the back and forth to the EAT on the caste issue, the matter has been heard on all issues back at the ET of first instance. At the time of writing Ms Tirkey been awarded her unpaid wages amounting to £183,774. A further remedy hearing remains listed for 5 and 6 November 2015 to decide on the compensation for her caste discrimination claim, which we here at SCE predict will be substantial and make further headlines should settlement not take place beforehand.

Ms Tirkey has been quoted in the wider press as stating that she is most pleased with this decision and that she now feels freed from her former oppressors.

Interestingly this Judgment came just days before the Modern Slavery Act 2015 came into force, with that legislation requiring large commercial employers to publish a slavery and human trafficking statement each year.

As always, if I can provide you with any further assistance in relation to discrimination or any other employment law matter please do not hesitate to contact me for a free consultation on 0113 350 4030 orsamira.cakali@scesolicitors.co.uk.

Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

Samira Cakali

Samira Cakali is a pragmatic and approachable solicitor advocate with extensive contentious and non-contentious experience in the fields of employment law as well as civil litigation, within a range of commercial businesses from SME’s to multinationals as well as senior executives.

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