Britain’s most senior court has today, in a landmark ruling, ruled that illegal immigrants are allowed to bring court actions against their employers for discrimination. Following an appeal of a Nigerian national who was trafficked into the UK, the Supreme Court has ruled that illegal immigrants should not be deprived of fundamental worker’s rights. The decision has contradicted an earlier ruling which had said that such a move would appear to “condone the illegality” of someone who had broken the law to come to Britain.
Mary Hounga: Facts of the Case
The Appellant, Mary Hounga, is a Nigerian national who arrived in the UK in 2007 on a visitor’s visa, when she was aged 14 years old. Miss Hounga, lived and worked for the Respondents’ as a domestic servant without a work permit. The Respondents’ had assisted her to obtain a visa to enter the UK under false pretences, of which the she was fully aware. The Respondents did not pay the Appellant during her period of employment and following her dismissal, she brought several claims in the Employment Tribunal including race discrimination and unfair dismissal.
Supreme Court’s Decision
The Supreme Court heard how Miss Hounga was abused with “violence and threats” and was thrown out in July 2008 by her employers. She initially partially won her case and was awarded £6,187 in compensation. However, this was later set aside but now a panel of five justices of the Supreme Court led by Baroness Hale, the deputy president, unanimously allowed a further appeal by Miss Hounga.
The Supreme Court ruled that there was an “insufficiently close connection” between her immigration offences and her claim for discrimination.
UK Needs to Honour International Obligations
Commenting on the case, Aidan McQuade, director of Anti-Slavery International stated:
“The court emphasised that the UK needs to honour its obligations under international law and protect the rights of victims of trafficking irrespective of their immigration status.
If someone is coerced or forced into an illegal employment, they are victims of crime and their rights should be protected.”
Legal Advice for Illegal Migrants Contacted by Capita in the UK
Illegal migrants with strong Human Rights arguments ought to take legal advice and regularise their stay in the UK as soon as possible and before it is too late. If you have received correspondence from Capita, it is advisable that you seek immediate legal advice before enforcement action is taken against you by the Home Office.
Contact us to discuss your immigration situation and we will assess your case and provide you with options of regularising your stay.