DWF and Shoosmiths act on caste discrimination claim against Coventry firm

A barrister from DWF is defending a Coventry-based firm in a caste discrimination claim being heard at Birmingham Employment Tribunal.

DWF barrister Andrew Marshall is representing Heer Manak Solicitors after the firm was accused of treating former employees Amardeep Begraj, a solicitor, and her practice manager husband Vijay differently after they married because of their different social standings in the hereditary caste system in India.

The couple is being represented by Shoosmiths associate Thalis Vlachos, who has instructed Declan O’Dempsey of Cloisters Chambers.

Mrs Begraj is a high caste Jatt Sikh and Mr Begraj is a low caste Hindu – described as ‘the untouchables’ because of the historic nature of their work in roles such as cleaning, pest control or scavenging.

The couple met when they both worked at Heer Manak. Mr Begraj was sacked in 2010 after seven years with the firm and his wife resigned in January 2011. They both claim to have been forced from their jobs on the basis of caste discrimination.

The tribunal, which was part-heard last August, began on Wednesday and is scheduled for 20 days.

It will also rule on whether the couple was discriminated against on the grounds of religion or race. Mr Begraj is claiming wrongful dismissal and his wife is claiming unfair constructive dismissal.

The firm refutes all the allegations.