Employment law

Caste discrimination – Tirkey v Chandok

The important case of Tirkey v Chandok has allowed claims for caste discrimination to proceed under the Equality Act as a form of race discrimination. Ms Tirkey went on to win her claim after establishing that caste discrimination is unlawful.

21 January 2016

Young woman sat drinking a coffee

Why did this case occur?

Permila Tirkey was recruited by a Milton Keynes couple to work as their cleaner and nanny. Ajay and Pooja Chandok chose Ms Tirkey from Bihar in India because of her low hereditary caste (as defined in India) and inability to speak English.

They took advantage of this, knowing that nobody from the UK would have accepted the working conditions they imposed. Ms Tirkey was made to work 18-hour days, seven days a week. She had her passport taken off her and was not allowed to contact her family. She was paid less than minimum wage.

How does this constitute as discrimination?

The tribunal agreed that Ms Tirkey was harassed on the grounds of her race and she was victim to indirect religious discrimination. She was given second-hand clothes to wear and slept on a foam mattress on the floor for four and a half years. She was not allowed to bring a bible with her or to go to church.

The tribunal found that Ms Tirkey’s living and working conditions were a “clear violation of her dignity” that “created an atmosphere of degradation which was offensive”. The Tribunal found that Ms Tirkey was not paid in line with national minimum wage and, therefore, awarded her £183,773.53 as back pay.

On top of this, the Tribunal also awarded Ms Tirkey £27,500 for direct race discrimination, £7,500 for indirect discrimination and £13,500 for psychiatric injuries, as well as £7,500 in aggravated damages. Not including the back payment, the total award came to £83,762.61 making it one of the largest ever for a non-monetary loss.

Slater and Gordon employment solicitors are experts in discrimination legislation. For specialist advice on making a discrimination at work claim, call us on 0330 041 5869 or contact us online and we'll call you.

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