Soft biometric modalities have shown their utility in different applications including reducing the search space significantly. This leads to improved recognition performance, reduced computation time, and faster processing of test samples. Some common soft biometric modalities are ethnicity, gender, age, hair color, iris color, presence of facial hair or moles, and markers. This research focuses on performing ethnicity and gender classification on iris images. We present a novel supervised auto-encoder based approach, Deep Class-Encoder, which uses class labels to learn discriminative representation for the given sample by mapping the learned feature vector to its label. The proposed model is evaluated on two datasets each for ethnicity and gender classification. The results obtained using the proposed Deep Class-Encoder demonstrate its effectiveness in comparison to existing approaches and state-of-the-art methods. © 2017 IEEE.