Belief Discrimination: Religious or spiritual beliefs and grounds for dismissal
Following the Court of Appeal’s widely reported decision in Ladele v London Borough of Islington in 2009 regarding religious or spiritual beliefs, the EAT has recently reconsidered an employee’s claim that his employer discriminated against him on the grounds of his religious beliefs.
In Power v Greater Manchester Police (a claim which was brought prior to the Equality Act 2010 coming into force) the EAT had to decide whether or not Mr Power was dismissed because he held beliefs in psychic and paranormal powers or, as Manchester Police argued, because his dismissal resulted from his alleged misconduct. Manchester Police said that Mr Power was dismissed for unsatisfactory conduct which included Mr Power bringing spiritualist DVDs and posters into work. Whilst the beliefs were found to fall within the definition under the Regulations, the EAT found that the dismissal was not on grounds of those beliefs.
What does this mean?
This case once again highlights that employers may dismiss or discipline employees for inappropriately manifesting their protected beliefs, without falling foul of the relevant legislation. It should be noted that under the provisions of the Equality Act 2010, the test has now changed so that the Claimant must prove that the alleged discriminatory act occurred ‘because of’ the protected belief. This said, it is unlikely that this decision would have been any different had the new test applied.
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