Religious Discrimination

In the case of Wasteney –v- East London NHS Trust the EAT had to decide whether disciplinary action against an employee for improperly promoting Christianity to a junior colleague was unlawful religious discrimination.

East London NHS Trust received complaints from a worker of Muslim faith about Ms Wasteney’s behaviour relating to various conversations and actions that had taken place which could be characterised as “grooming”.   This included Ms Wasteney praying with the junior employee, the laying on of hands and giving her a book which covered the conversion to Christianity of a Muslim woman, etc.  This was unwanted attention by the junior worker.  The Trust, following the investigation, stated that this amounted to serious misconduct as Ms Wasteney had confused her professional boundaries and subjected a junior colleague to inappropriate pressure and unwanted conduct.

Ms Wasteney was given a formal warning but claimed unlawful religious discrimination and harassment.  Her claim was dismissed by the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed and stated there had been no religious discrimination against Ms Wasteney.

The EAT explained that there was a distinction between merely manifesting a religious belief discipline for which would be unlawful discrimination, however disciplining for improperly promoting religious belief in a way that was not consensual and was in effect taking advantage of someone who was a junior to them in the organisation was not unlawful discrimination.

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