Employers in England and Wales are not allowed to discriminate against you in the workplace because of your religious beliefs or your religion. You are protected by law and you can take action against your employer if you have suffered from religious discrimination at work.
The time limits for bringing a claim against your employer are short so you should get legal advice from a specialist Employment Law Solicitor as soon as possible.
Our Employment Law Solicitors can help you to understand if you have a claim, to know if you are in time to make one and also explore all the funding options open to you.
Religious or Belief Discrimination at Work Explained
The Equality Act 2010 protects you from discrimination at work because of your religion or your beliefs. These protections are in place no matter what your religion or belief or that of your employer. They also apply if you are already working for your employer or you are applying for a job.
The Equality Act 2010 identifies ‘Protected Characteristics’. These are things about you that identify you and if you face discrimination because of them, it’s automatically unfair. Discrimination in the workplace because of your belief or your religion should not be tolerated and you could make a claim if you have suffered from this.
There are four types of workplace discrimination because of religion or belief. They are:
- Direct Discrimination – Where you are treated less favourably than someone else at work because of your religion or your religious You should be aware that direct discrimination can occur even when your employer holds the same religion or beliefs as you do.
- Indirect Discrimination – Happens when a particular policy, procedure or way of working which affects everyone but because of your religion or religious beliefs, would leave you at a disadvantage. An example would be if you are Jewish and needed to leave work early on a Friday in wintertime to observe the Sabbath, but the staff meeting was moved to a Friday afternoon, meaning you could not attend.
- Harassment – Occurs when you feel degraded, humiliated or offended at work because of your religious beliefs or religion. Any employment law claim for harassment will depend on whether your employer did all they could to stop the harassment. In these circumstances, you may not be able to claim against your employer but you could make a claim directly against the person who is harassing you.
- Victimisation – Is where you are treated badly because you made a complaint about religion or religious belief discrimination or you supported a claim made by someone else.
You can make a claim against your employer for any of these types of discrimination in the workplace. If you were unfairly dismissed you could make an unfair dismissal claim.
Can Religious Discrimination Sometimes be Lawful?
You should be aware that it’s sometimes lawful for employers to treat people differently because of their religion or religious belief. These are some of those times:
- If you belong to a particular religion that is essential for the job. This is called an Occupational Requirement.
- A faith school hires a teacher because of their religion
- An employer is taking positive action to try to recruit people with a religion or religious belief that is underrepresented in their workplace.
There are other circumstances where it could be lawful for your employer to treat someone differently so call one of our expert Employment Law Solicitors for legal advice.
Facing Religious Discrimination at Work?
It is against the law and you can take action against your employer.
You should firstly review any policies or procedures that your employer may have relating to discrimination in the workplace. These will help you to understand the process you need to follow and decide your next steps.
You should report the discrimination to your direct manager, providing they are not the person discriminating against you. If you have an HR department you could go to them or your manager’s manger.
If there is no policy relating to discrimination at work and you don’t feel satisfied with your informal approach, you can formally raise a grievance. Again, if your employer does not deal with this to your satisfaction, you could make a claim against them in an Employment Tribunal.
Cases involving religion or belief discrimination can happen during the recruitment process, during your employment or in connection with your termination of employment. You can make a claim against your employer and in some circumstances, the person harassing you.
Any award of compensation given to you by the Employment Tribunal can include an amount for loss of earnings and also damages for injury to feelings.
Time Limits to Make a Claim
There are very short time limits when making an employment law claim and religious belief and religion discrimination claims are no different.
You only have three months to make a claim from the date of the act of discrimination or the last one in the series of acts. This can include up to three months after your employment has ended.
Make sure you get specialist legal advice from an Employment Lawyer as early as possible to protect your right to make a claim against your employer.
You will need to complete the Early Conciliation Process with ACAS before you can make a claim in an Employment Tribunal. This is to try to settle the claim before going to Court. The time limit for making a claim will be paused whilst this process is ongoing.
Length of Service
Unlike other employment law claims, there is no length of service requirement to bring a religion or belief discrimination claim.
Discrimination claims are not straightforward. Getting early and specialist legal advice from a specialist Employment Solicitor will help you to understand your position and whether you have a claim.
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