11 June 2015 #Employment
If one employee voices her religious views, and this causes upset or offence to another employee, would it be discriminatory to dismiss?
Difficulties can occur in the workplace when the religious views of one employee clash with the lifestyle of another, as shown in the case of Mbuyi v Newpark Childcare . Mbuyi is an Evangelical Christian and worked with an employee who was a lesbian. The lesbian employee told Mbuyi that she was disappointed that she was not allowed to marry her partner in Church, and Mbuyi expressed her opinion that homosexuality is a sin. She was dismissed for gross misconduct, due to expressing her opinions.
The Employment Tribunal found that Mbuyi had suffered discrimination due to her religious beliefs. It found that the investigations into what had happened had suffered from stereotypical views of Evangelical Christians, and that Mbuyi had not forced her religion or her opinions on her colleague, but was responding to issues that had been raised with her.
The Tribunal ruled that Mbuyi’s beliefs were worthy of respect in a democratic society, and there was no conflict with the fundamental rights of others.
It is important to note that Mbuyi was not preaching her views, and was only responding to an issue that had been raised by another employee. If she had been forcing her views or her religion on others the outcome could have been quite different. The case emphasises that employees are allowed to have their beliefs, and should not be penalised if they express them in a reasonable manner when asked about their views on a matter.
Forbury People Consultant