EHRC calls for the "reasonable accommodation" of religion or belief in the workplace
18 July 2011
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is seeking to intervene in four cases being heard by the European Court of Human rights involving religious discrimination in the workplace.
If given permission to intervene, the Commission will argue that the way in which judges are interpreting anti-discrimination legislation in the UK is insufficient to protect freedom of religion or belief.
According to the Commission, the courts have set the bar too high from someone to prove that they have been discriminated against because of religion or belief. The Commission is seeking to establish that it is possible to accommodate expression of religion alongside the rights of non-religious people and the needs of businesses. The Commission is also critical of what it perceives to be a growing body of confusing and contradictory case law, making it difficult for employers to know what they should be doing to protect people from discrimination related to religion or belief.
The Commission is calling for clearer legal principles to help the courts decide what is and is not justifiable in religion or belief cases, and is proposing the idea of "reasonable accommodations" that will help employers manage how they allow people to manifest their religion or belief.
John Wadham, Group Director of Legal at the Commission, says, "The idea of making reasonable adjustments to accommodate a person`s needs has served disability discrimination law well for decades. It seems reasonable that a similar concept could be adopted to allow someone to manifest their religious beliefs."
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