Wednesday 15 January 2014

Religious Discrimination: Difference between 'holding' and 'manifesting' belief

Thanks to Ed McFarlane of Deminos HR for preparing this case summary
Is there a clear dividing line between holding and manifesting a religious belief?

No, holds the EAT (Mitting J presiding) in Grace v Places for Children.

The Claimant, a short serving children's Nursery Manager, alleged unlawful religious discrimination having been dismissed after holding an unauthorised training session, at which manifestations of her religious beliefs led to various complaints from staff.

The employment tribunal dismissed a claim of unlawful religious discrimination, distinguishing the treatment of the Claimant because of the inappropriate way that she manifested or shared her beliefs from treatment on the ground of her beliefs as such.

The EAT rejected the Claimant's appeal, holding that the fact that the tribunal had referred to in its judgment the case of Chondol v Liverpool CC (a social worker dismissed for 'improperly foisting' his beliefs on service users), with its readily distinguishable facts, did not amount to an error of law. All facts in cases of this nature are likely to differ from other cases.

The EAT noted that there is "no clear dividing line between holding and manifesting a belief and that an unjustified unfavourable treatment because an employee has manifested his or her religion may amount to unlawful discrimination".

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