Employment Law Update – Caste Discrimination is Tested

I found this article relating to Employment Law which I thought may be of interest. So here it is for you

It is unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of race, colour, nationality or ethnic origins, but to date there has been no challenge to discrimination on the grounds of caste. When the Equality Act 2010 was still going through Parliament, the question of whether caste should be a specific protected characteristic was discussed, but no firm conclusion reached. The Government introduced an option to afford such protection, but implementation was deferred while further investigations were carried out.

Vijay and Amardeep Begraj is an Indian couple who worked for Heer Manak Solicitors. They are citing caste as a reason for less favourable treatment at work. Mr Begraj is from the Dalit caste, once known as the Untouchables. This is the lowest class of people according to the Indian caste system. Mrs Begraj is of the Jat caste. This case is the first in the UK to cite caste as grounds for discrimination.

Mr and Mrs Begraj allege that Mr Begraj was treated less favourably for a reason related to his caste. The allegations of mistreatment include trying to discourage the marriage. Mrs Begraj stated that a senior colleague advised her against marrying Mr Begraj because people of his caste were ‘different creatures’. Mr Begraj gave evidence that he was told his position at the firm was ‘compromised’. After the two married, they say they were still subjected to hurtful and unpleasant remarks and Mrs Begraj says she was given more work and less secretarial support afterwards.

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Mr Begraj is claiming wrongful dismissal and Mrs Begraj is complaining of constructive unfair dismissal. While the case of Mr and Mrs Begraj has been adjourned until March next year, the issue has also been presented to the United Nations by one of the lobby groups (ACDA) instrumental in having the matter discussed during the passage of the Equality Act. The lobby groups hope that this will bring pressure to bear upon the Government to implement protection for castes.

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