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Religion or belief discrimination

Fiona Cuming

Editor's message: Issues around the protected characteristic of “religion or belief” can be particularly sensitive for organisations. Workers should be free to practise their religion, but this freedom can sometimes be at odds with your business’s needs.

The workplace issues that most commonly arise include time off and flexible working patterns for religious observance, flexible working, facilities for prayer, and dress codes. These matters can lead to the risk of claims for direct or indirect discrimination.

Misunderstandings about different religions and beliefs can also result in harassment claims. Raising awareness about different religions and beliefs can address misconceptions and allow your workers to understand what is and is not appropriate behaviour.

Awareness training should not be a one-off event, and you should consider incorporating issues associated with religion in the workplace into mainstream training activities and policies and processes.

Fiona Cuming, employment law editor

New and updated

  • Society launches veganism guidance for employers

    Date:
    20 February 2020
    Type:
    News

    Following last month's landmark ruling that ethical veganism qualifies as a philosophical belief for the purposes of the Equality Act, the Vegan Society has issued guidance to employers to help them avoid direct or indirect discrimination.

  • Podcast: Non-religious beliefs in the workplace

    Date:
    4 February 2020
    Type:
    Podcasts and webinars

    Emma O'Connor, senior associate at law firm Boyes Turner, discusses the legal and practical implications for employers of the recent employment tribunal case involving a philosophical belief in ethical veganism.

  • Religion or belief discrimination: Are beliefs on veganism and gender transition protected?

    Date:
    3 February 2020
    Type:
    Commentary and analysis

    Consultant editor Darren Newman looks at the criteria applied by employment tribunals in recent cases to determine the sort of philosophical beliefs that should be protected by the Equality Act 2010.

  • Religion or belief discrimination: Veganism is a philosophical belief, rules tribunal

    Date:
    31 January 2020
    Type:
    Law reports

    In Casamitjana v The League Against Cruel Sports, an employment tribunal held that ethical veganism is capable of being a philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010.

  • Equality Act 2010: Which non-religious beliefs are protected?

    Date:
    17 January 2020
    Type:
    Commentary and analysis

    Ethical veganism, democratic socialism, humanism and a refusal to lie to customers are among the eclectic list of beliefs that have come before courts and tribunals as potential "philosophical beliefs" under equality legislation. We round up which non-religious beliefs have been found to be protected under the Equality Act 2010.

  • General election 2019: Five issues when politics and work mix

    Date:
    12 November 2019
    Type:
    Commentary and analysis

    How can employers prevent employees from electioneering at work? Should the workforce be banned from highlighting their political allegiances in the workplace? What if colleagues argue over opposing political views? With a general election taking place on 12 December, we look at five employment issues when politics and the workplace mix.

  • Climate change protests: Five concerns for employers

    Date:
    28 October 2019
    Type:
    Commentary and analysis

    Widespread environmental protests, such as the Extinction Rebellion, are having an increasing everyday impact on employers. We round up potential issues for HR professionals who are dealing with disruption to their employer's operations as a result of climate change protests.

  • Refusal to sign copyright agreement not due to philosophical belief

    Date:
    23 October 2019
    Type:
    Law reports

    In Gray v Mulberry Company (Design) Ltd, the Court of Appeal held that the employee's refusal to sign a copyright agreement was not due to any philosophical belief, but to her wish to achieve greater protection for her own creative work.

  • Political beliefs in the workplace: what does the law say?

    Date:
    15 October 2019
    Type:
    Commentary and analysis

    As the debate over Brexit reaches a crescendo and leavers and remainers disagree on what should happen next, Richard Fox examines the extent to which employers can allow political debate in the workplace.

  • Vegetarianism not philosophical belief under Equality Act 2010, holds tribunal

    Date:
    13 September 2019
    Type:
    Law reports

    In Conisbee v Crossley Farms Ltd and others, an employment tribunal held that vegetarianism is not a "philosophical belief" under the Equality Act 2010. However, the tribunal suggested that veganism is more likely to be protected under the Act.

About this topic

HR and legal information and guidance relating to religion or belief discrimination.