In a significant ruling that would facilitate Indian law students from doing their internships in UK legal firms, a tribunal has held that refusal by a firm to even consider applications by non-EEA nationals amounted to "indirect racial discrimination".
The Employment Appellate Tribunal in its ruling last month said the employers could not justify their policy of not accepting applications for training contracts from non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals under the pretext of the requirement of the work permit.
The ruling came in a case filed by an Indian student Ashokvardhan Purohit, who accused Osborne Clarke Services, a top UK law firm, of discrimination for automatically rejecting his application for solicitor training on account of his nationality.
"This is an appeal from a decision of a Bristol Employment Tribunal chaired by Employment Judge Christensen, who, following a hearing in March 2008 in a reserved judgment delivered on April 18, 2008, dismissed Purohit's claims for direct race discrimination but made findings of indirect race discrimination on the grounds of nationality.
"Leave for this hearing was given by Justice Elias by order dated 9 July 2008."
The judgement said it was not disputed that Purohit, being an Indian national, was a member of a racial group identified as a non-EEA national and was therefore entitled to bring a claim for discrimination.