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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

  • 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 Page v NHS Trust Development Authority, in which the EAT considered the distinction between a person's religious beliefs and the manner in which they express those beliefs.

  • 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.

  • Podcast: Brexit and political opinions at work

    Date:
    22 March 2019
    Type:
    Audio and video

    How should employers approach political discussions at work? Can employers prevent employees from displaying pro- or anti-Brexit paraphernalia at work? What about staff campaigning or protesting outside working hours? Will employers making redundancies because of Brexit really choose leave voters as the first to go? We discuss five scenarios related to Brexit and political opinions at work.

  • Religious discrimination: Justifying shift rota requiring work on Sabbath

    Date:
    20 March 2019
    Type:
    Law reports

    In The City of Oxford Bus Services Ltd t/a Oxford Bus Company v Harvey, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that, when deciding if an employer's working arrangements are justified, the tribunal must focus on justifying the rule in the particular circumstances of the business, rather than the application of the rule to the individual.

  • Dismissal for "cohabitation outside marriage" is not religious discrimination, rules EAT

    Date:
    21 February 2019
    Type:
    Law reports

    In Gan Menachem Hendon Ltd v De Groen, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that a claim of direct religious discrimination cannot be sustained simply on the basis that an employer acted in the way it did because of its own religious beliefs.

  • Date:
    11 January 2019
    Type:
    Legal guidance

    As always, HR professionals had their fair share of employment law cases to keep track of in 2018, but what were the 10 most important judgments in 2018 that every employer should know about?

  • Tribunal to consider discrimination against vegan

    Date:
    4 December 2018
    Type:
    News

    An employment tribunal will next year decide if "ethical veganism" is a philosophical belief in a case involving a man who claims he was discriminated against by his employer, the League Against Cruel Sports.

About this topic

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