10 June 2020 #Employment
In the recent case of Gould v St John’s Downshire Hill, the EAT had to decide if the dismissal of a church minister relating to his marriage breaking down was discrimination on the grounds of marriage.
The Tribunal dismissed the Claimant’s claim. On the facts it found that his dismissal was due to his behaviour resulting from the marital breakdown and not due to any moral or religious belief that he could not continue to serve as his marriage had broken down. The EAT upheld the decision but stated that the outcome would have been different if unmarried ministers would have been treated differently for displaying similar conduct or if he had been dismissed due to a belief that the breakdown in his marriage itself meant that he could not retain his role.
This case provides useful clarification on the law relating to marriage discrimination and employers should take notice of this when faced with a similar situation. It may be a fine line between dismissal for the marital breakdown itself and conduct relating to this and employers should consider this carefully and seek advice before taking action to reduce the risk of claims here.