05 July 2019 #Employment
In the recent EAT judgement in Page v NHS Trust Development, the Claimant’s appeal was dismissed finding that the Trust had not discriminated when removing the Claimant from office.
The Claimant was a non-executive director of an NHS Trust as well as being a lay magistrate in criminal and family courts. In 2014 the Claimant, while part of a panel deciding a same-sex adoption application, expressed his view that “it was not normal” for a child to be adopted by a single parent or a same-sex couple. When reported and criticised by his fellow magistrates for lack of impartibility, the Claimant was disciplined. He then preceded to give interviews to national newspapers stating he was prejudiced for his Christian views, particularly that he believed a child should be raised by a mother and a father.
The Trust’s LGBT Staff Network complained, and the Trust instructed the Claimant to inform them of any further interviews. In 2016 he was dismissed by the Magistracy, something he did not inform the Trust about, and continued to make television appearances voicing his negative views on homosexuality. The Trust dismissed him.
The Tribunal rejected his claims of discrimination due to his religious beliefs as he was not dismissed for his views but the fact that he had ignored repeated instructions to seek permission to make the public appearances. The EAT agreed, stating that the Claimant did not need to give interviews and make such remarks to prove his faith. The Trust’s actions were due to the Claimant’s failure to consider the impact of his remarks on vulnerable sections of the public which the Trust needed to engage. Some have questioned how the decision might have changed if the views had been in private.