• Robert Spicer

Race discrimination: abuse of migrant workers: Supreme Court decision


Immigration status

Case Taiwo v Olaigbe and Onu v Akwiwu (2016) Morning Star, August 5, Supreme Court

Facts Two Nigerian migrant workers had come to Britain on domestic workers’ visas. Ms T was expected to work during most of her waking hours for minimal wages. She was starved and subjected to mental and physical abuse.

Ms O worked an average of 84 hours a week. She was not paid the national minimum wage and was abused.

Both workers brought a number of claims against their employers, including claims for race discrimination. The EAT ruled that this claim failed. The Court of Appeal dismissed their appeals on the basis that immigration status could not be equated with nationality for the purpose of the Equality Act 2010. There were many non-British nationals working in Britain who did not share the dependence and vulnerability of these migrant workers. Ms T and Ms O appealed to the Supreme Court.

Decision 1. The appeal was dismissed.

  1. Although immigration status is a function of nationality and nationality is one of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act, it is not unlawful to discriminate against someone on the basis of their immigration status.

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