13 February 2012 #Employment
Last week the Court of Appeal confirmed that Christian hotel owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull discriminated against civil partners Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall by refusing to allow them to share a double bed in 2008.
At their hotel in Cornwall Mr and Mrs Bull had operated a strict policy refusing double bedrooms to unmarried couples. In January 2011 the hotel owners were ordered to pay £3,600 in damages and it was ruled that they had breached equality legislation.
Mr and Mrs Bull appealed the Bristol County Court decision that they had acted unlawfully when they turned the couple away.
The Court of Appeal heard that the Bull`s thought any sex outside of marriage was a "sin" and that their policy was directed at sexual practice and not at sexual orientation. The couple denied discriminating against Mr Preddy and Mr Hall.
Upholding the County Court`s decision the Court of Appeal held that having undergone a civil partnership, the Claimants should have been treated in the same way as a married couple and concluded that the only reason they were treated differently was because they were gay.
Interestingly the Court rejected the Bulls` that their policy of `no unmarried couples` was a manifestation of their religious beliefs. In the Court`s view if Mr and Mrs Bull had chosen to run a hotel business then they had to run it in accordance with the law. They were required by law not to discriminate potential customers because of their sexual orientation.
In the employment context employees must not be treated less favourably because of their sexual orientation. Employers should have equal opportunities in place and should provide equality opportunities training to avoid discrimination issues arising and resulting in Tribunal claims.