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Religious discrimination cases to be heard next month

On 4th September the European Court of Human Rights will hear a number of cases involving the role of religion at work. The individuals are all claiming that the UK has failed to protect their right under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights to freely hold and manifest their religion.

  • Eweida v British Airways plc and Chaplin v Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust: Ms Eweida and Mrs Chaplin brought unsuccessful claims of indirect religious discrimination against their employers on the basis that they were not allowed to wear crosses under workplace uniform policies. Both employees are devout Christians who wanted to wear a cross visibly over their uniforms as an expression of faith.
  • Ladele v London Borough of Islington: the Court of Appeal held that a Christian civil registrar was not discriminated against on grounds of religion when she was required to undertake civil partnerships for same-sex couples.
  • McFarlane v Relate Avon Ltd: the EAT decided that a Christian employee had not been discriminated against on religious grounds where he was dismissed for refusing to provide counselling services to same-sex couples.

Interestingly, at Prime Minister’s Questions last month, David Cameron stated that if the result of the case goes against Miss Eweida, then the law will be changed to “make it clear that people can wear religious symbols at work”.

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