Topics

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

  • Date:
    17 January 2020
    Type:
    Legal guidance

    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.

  • Date:
    12 November 2019
    Type:
    Legal guidance

    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.

  • Date:
    28 October 2019
    Type:
    Legal guidance

    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.

  • Date:
    15 October 2019
    Type:
    Legal guidance

    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.

  • Religious discrimination awards 2018/19

    Type:
    Quick reference

    A table listing the religious discrimination awards made by employment tribunals in 2018/19.

  • Religion or belief discrimination

    Type:
    Employment law manual

    Updated to include information on Bessong v Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, in which the EAT considered if an employer can be held liable for third-party harassment under the Equality Act 2010.

  • No religious discrimination where director suspended after publicly opposing same-sex adoption

    Date:
    6 August 2019
    Type:
    Law reports

    In Page v NHS Trust Development Authority, the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld an employment tribunal decision that there was no religious discrimination where a non-executive director was suspended after voicing his opposition to same-sex couple adoption in the media.

  • Companies warned over discrimination against vegans

    Date:
    9 May 2019
    Type:
    News

    Employers need to work much harder to consider the needs of vegan employees and treat them with respect, or risk running into legal difficulties, an employment law firm has warned.

About this topic

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