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Employees to be protected from caste discrimination

07 April 2010 #Employment


Observers argue that caste based discrimination is a serious problem facing Asian communities in the UK. A report published by the Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance found that more than half of those from traditionally lower-status Asian backgrounds have found themselves victims of prejudice and abuse. Nine per cent of respondents felt that they had been passed over for promotion and ten per cent said that they had been paid less because of their caste. A further five per cent said they had experienced threatening behaviour because of their caste.

The concept of "caste" is primarily associated with cultures of the Indian sub-continent. The caste system enforces a social hierarchy, in which social classes are defined by hereditary groups. Caste is determined by birth and cannot be changed. Campaigners argue that members of the lower caste, referred to as the "untouchables", suffer unfair treatment at the hands of higher caste members, even in second generation Asian communities in the UK.

Provision has now been added to the Equality Bill, giving the Government power to amend the definition of "race" to include "caste" in its anti-discrimination provisions. It is uncertain whether this provision will survive the final passage of the Bill through the House of Commons, as there is a reluctance to legislate on the issue of caste discrimination without more detailed research being undertaken.

If protection from caste discrimination in employment becomes a legal right in the UK, employers will have to provide the necessary training and guidance to managers and other employees on a subject about which many will know very little.

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at employmentunit@clarkslegal.com by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.

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