Tackling Extremist Views in the Workplace

Home Articles Discrimination and Equality Tackling Extremist Views in the Workplace
a
Religious symbols

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has again heard a case which deals with the fine line between religious belief and the way those beliefs are expressed through extremist views.

In this case, an employee had been given a final written warning for comments made about homosexuality which he claimed was a mere manifestation of his religious belief.

Prison Employee Helped Out At Chapel

In Trayhorn v The Secretary of State for Justice, the claimant (who was ordained as a Pentacostal Minister in 2009) began employment at HM Prison Littlehey as a gardener in 2011.

He volunteered to help out at the Prison chapel. Attendees included inmates of all faiths as well as lesbian and gay inmates, and others from the LGBT community.

Although not part of his volunteering activities, the claimant would speak out during services when he felt moved to do so. A complaint was received from an inmate attendee after the claimant commented during a service that homosexual marriage should be stopped. The Managing Chaplain told the claimant not to behave in this way.

Employee Made Further Comments suggesting Extremist Views

Three months later, however, the claimant made further comments that were consider extremist views during a service about homosexuality, drunkenness, sex outside marriage and theft. He then told inmates that they could complain if they wanted to but God would forgive them. Following further complaints, the claimant was invited to a disciplinary hearing for unprofessional conduct. He was told that the highest sanction that could result from the proceedings was a final written warning.

He then went on sick leave before submitting his resignation. The disciplinary proceedings were held during the claimant’s notice period and he was issued with a final written warning.

The claimant claimed constructive dismissal and religious discrimination on the basis that he had been subjected to disciplinary proceedings and given a warning for the manifestation of his religious beliefs. The Employment Tribunal dismissed all claims.

Employment Appeal Tribunal Agreed

The Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed that the claims should be dismissed.

It was not the manifestation of the claimant’s religious belief that led to disciplinary action but the way in which that manifestation occurred, the EAT said. It is the “context and the manner” of the religious expression that was a breach of the Prison’s rules on conduct. Prison rules did not prohibit manifestation of religious belief but did not accept it being done in a way that causes offence to others. The claimant had not been discriminated against.

What Can Employers Take From This?

  • The EAT’s finding is consistent with a previous decision on similar facts (Wasteney v East London NHS Foundation Trust) meaning that employers can start to navigate this area of discrimination with more surety;
  • Whilst individuals are protected by the Equality Act 2010 against detriment because of their religion, employers can take action when the expression of that religion is done in an unacceptable manner;
  • Individuals cannot use their religion as a reason for imposing their potential extremist views in the workplace to an unlimited extent;

Careful investigation of complaints must be carried out. In these types of cases, witness statements from those who considered the comments to be offensive will be key.

Share:
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Social Media

Latest Posts

RIDDOR Landing page v x

What are RIDDOR Regulations & What are Employer’s Responsibilities for RIDDOR Reportable Incidents?

Firstly many people ask what RIDDOR means, RIDDOR stands for reporting injuries diseases, and dangerous occurrences. Accidents at work can happen, even with the best …

An Employer Guide to Disciplinary Action and Police Investigations

An Employer’s Guide to Disciplinary Action and Police Investigations

Without wishing to delve too heavily into the current (alleged) political shenanigans, there has been much discussion about the announcement of an investigation by the …

covid vaccine 800x296 1

Your Complete Guide to Mandatory Covid-19 Vaccinations

Earlier this month the government announced that The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 amendment had been passed by Parliament. The …

working from home

Can employers adjust sick pay for unvaccinated workers?

Can employers adjust sick pay for unvaccinated workers? There has been a lot of media coverage recently about various companies who are reducing sick pay …

working from home

Working from home: FAQs for employers

This week the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson announced the implementation of Plan B of its COVID-19 winter response due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases …

On Key

Related Posts