In Hounga v Allen  UKSC 47, the Supreme Court considered whether a worker could bring a discrimination claim against her employer even though she was living and working in the UK illegally.
Ms Hounga, a Nigerian national, lived and worked illegally in the UK. She worked as a live-in nanny and housekeeper for Mrs Allen, who had played a significant part in bringing Ms Hounga illegally into the UK. Mrs Allen subjected Ms Hounga to physical, verbal and emotional abuse, and ultimately evicted her, effectively terminating her employment. Ms Hounga brought a race discrimination claim against Mrs Allen, claiming that she been dismissed on the grounds of her race. The Supreme Court found that although Ms Hounga was prevented from bringing certain employment claims arising directly from her employment (including unfair dismissal and breach of contract) on the basis that the employment relationship was illegal, she was entitled to bring a discrimination claim because the discrimination she had suffered was not sufficiently linked to the employment relationship. In reaching this decision, the Supreme Court was greatly influenced by strong public policy considerations, and in particular the UK's international obligations to protect victims of human trafficking.
This is a sound decision from a public policy perspective and is particularly important in light of the increasing concerns about human trafficking in Europe and the Modern Slavery Bill which is currently making its way through Parliament (currently expected to be enacted in the first half of 2015).