It looks like the long-running saga over the addition of “caste” to the definition of “race” under Equality Act 2010 has reached a critical point, with the Government backing down over its opposition to the amendment. We chart some of the key events that have led to this point.
1 October 2010: Equality Act 2010 comes into force The Equality Act 2010 refers in the definition of race only to colour, nationality, and ethnic or national origins. The Equality Act 2010 retains the power under s.9 to add caste to the definition of race.
16 December 2010: Government promises to consider caste discrimination evidence The Government promises to consider evidence from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) that discrimination on the ground of caste exists in the UK before deciding whether or not to implement the relevant provision in the Equality Act 2010.
16 August 2011: Indian couple claim caste discrimination against law firm An Indian husband and wife who became a couple while working at a law firm make the news for bringing a high-profile employment tribunal claim in Begraj v Heer Manak Solicitors that they were discriminated against because he is from a lower caste than her.
23 August 2011: ACDA gives evidence to United Nations committee The Anti-Caste Discrimination Alliance (ACDA) criticises the UK Government’s delay of over eight months in considering the findings in the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) report setting out evidence of caste-based discrimination in the UK.
14 February 2013: Caste discrimination claim collapses after police interrupt tribunal proceedings The employment judge excuses herself from the test caste discrimination claim in Begraj v Heer Manak Solicitors after police officers visit her over 30 days into proceedings and hand over information that she feels bias her view of the case.
1 March 2013: Government wants to educate, rather than legislate, over caste discrimination The Government says in a written ministerial statement that it has no current plans to add “caste” to the definition of “race” in the Equality Act 2010 and is instead to run an educational programme to raise awareness of caste discrimination among affected groups, including employers.
4 March 2013: Caste discrimination issue returns to the Lords The House of Lords debates caste discrimination and votes that the Equality Act 2010 should be amended to make provision for caste discrimination.
6 March 2013: Employment tribunal says chef’s caste discrimination claim “doomed to fail” under Equality Act 2010 XpertHR reports the employment tribunal decision in Naveed v Aslam and another t/a Chilli Pink, in which the tribunal said that it could not interpret the Equality Act 2010 to cover caste discrimination when the claimant and alleged perpetrators are at different levels of the same caste.
16 April 2013: Commons reject caste discrimination amendment The House of Commons votes against the caste discrimination amendment that the House of Lords supported.
23 April 2013: Government agrees to make “caste” an aspect of “race” under Equality Act 2010 On the return of the issue of caste discrimination to the House of Lords, the Lords again vote in favour of the amendment, after which the Government accepts that it will allow the amendment to the Equality Act 2010 to proceed.
Implementation date? A date for the change to the Equality Act 2010 has not yet been confirmed. Use the XpertHR legal timetable to track the progress of the caste discrimination proposal.