Caste discrimination again: Tirkey v Chandhok & Anor

Success for Claimant leaves the issue of caste unresolved

The previous proceedings

In Chandhok & Anor v Tirkey (Race Discrimination) [2014] UKEAT 0190 14 1912, about which we posted in December, Ms Tirkey had claimed that the Chandhoks had treated her badly and in a demeaning manner and initially sought “compensation for direct or indirect race discrimination and harassment including injury to feelings” and “compensation for discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, including injury to feelings…”. She then claimed (by amendment) that her treatment was in part because of her low status which was “infected with considerations of caste”.

When the Chandhoks applied to strike out this amendment Langstaff J, sitting alone, concluded that though “caste” as an autonomous concept did not presently come within s 9(1) of the Equality Act, many of the facts relevant in considering caste in many of its forms might be capable of doing so, since “ethnic origins” in s 9(1)(c) had a wide and flexible ambit, including characteristics determined by “descent”; and it became common ground during the argument that it was possible that the facts found in hearing Ms Tirkey’s claim might come within the scope of that phrase. He held that

“… since the facts which the Claimant promises to establish if her claim is made out could come within section 9(1) of the Equality Act, a pleading to that effect cannot properly be struck out without hearing and determining the full facts. Employment Judge Sigsworth [at the original Employment Tribunal hearing] was right so to determine” [54].

The recent proceedings

A differently-constituted Employment Tribunal (Employment Judge Ord, Mr J Ruddick & Mr M Reuby) returned to the matter in Tirkey v Chandhok & Anor [2015] ET 3400174/2013.

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