04 June 2015 #Employment
A woman who observes Shabbat (the Jewish day of rest from sundown on Friday to sunset on Saturday) has won a claim of indirect discrimination on the grounds of her religion after she was refused employment.
In the case of Fhima v Travel Jigsaw  Ms Fhima applied for a job where she was told that the shifts were 7am-11am, Monday-Saturday but all employees were allowed two days off a week. She was not able to work during Shabbat, and as the employer wanted people who were available to work on Saturdays her application was refused.
The employer claimed that she had lied in her initial telephone interview about her availability to work on Saturdays, but Ms Fhima denied this. It is reported that Ms Fhima was awarded £8,000 for loss of earnings and £7,500 for injury to feelings.
If you are going to insist that employees are available for work on certain days you must be able to show that this is justifiable. Here the employer was not able to show that it was essential to have Fhima available for Saturday working, given that employees were working shift patterns covering different days each week. If they had been able to show that it was essential that she was available on Saturdays, and no alternative arrangement could be made, it is unlikely that Ms Fhima would have won the claim.
Forbury People Consultant