Employment Watch Winter 2011 - Caste discrimination in the pipeline?

2 February 2011

A Government commissioned report into the impact of caste discrimination in the UK by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research has found that there is some evidence of discrimination against people of lower castes amongst British communities with roots in the Indian sub-continent.

The report found that the best way of tackling this problem would be to introduce "caste specific" anti-discrimination measures. Under the Equality Act 2010, the Government has the power to make caste discrimination a form of race discrimination. Such an approach has been criticised, notably by the Indian Government, who have battled this form of discrimination for many years, and this report reinforces the perceived need for bespoke measures to tackle this very specific issue rather than shoehorning it into the race discrimination provisions of the existing Act.

The Government will no doubt take on board the NIESR recommendations when deciding what, if any, action to take on the issue. On the other hand, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, believes that caste is already covered by the existing definition of race discrimination, raising the prospect that they may sponsor a case to test the parameters of the Equality Act in this regard.

For more information please contact Richard Fox, head of Employment, at rfox@kingsleynapley.co.uk or on +44 (0)20 7814 1285.

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