Home > Public space > England and Wales > 1983-03-24 - House of Lords, Mandla v Dowell Lee [1983] 1 All ER 1062, (...)

1983-03-24 - House of Lords, Mandla v Dowell Lee [1983] 1 All ER 1062, [1983] IRLR 209

Public space · England and Wales · Discrimination · Dress code · School

The ‘no turban rule’ adopted by an independent school amounts to unlawful discrimination

Key facts of the case - A pupil who was an orthodox Sikh accordingly wore a turban. He was denied access to a private school unless he removed his turban and cut his hair. The reason were the ‘the wearing of a turban, being a manifestation of the boy’s ethnic origins, would accentuate religious and social distinctions in the school which, was a multiracial school based on the Christian faith. The boy’s father argued that this decision amounted to unlawful discrimination the Race Relations Act 1976.

Main reasoning of the court - The House of Lords accepted that a no turban rule in an independent school amounted to indirect discrimination against a Sikh schoolboy. The Lords held that Sikhs are an ethnic group under the Race Relations Act 1976 and compliance with the rule would involve an inconsistency with the traditions of the group.