Making a Religious Discrimination Claim against an Employer
If you have been treated unfairly at work in England or Wales because of your religious beliefs, you are entitled to make a claim against your employer. This involves taking your case to the Employment Tribunal. Depending on the circumstances, it may be best to lodge an internal grievance first.
You cannot be dismissed from your job for raising a grievance or making a workplace discrimination claim against your employer. If you do lose your job, you may have grounds for an unfair dismissal claim, as well as a workplace discrimination claim.
For initial legal advice get in touch with our Employment Solicitors.
Can I Make a Religious Discrimination Claim?
Your employer has a legal duty to protect you from discrimination in the workplace – including religious discrimination. If your employer fails to take reasonable steps to meet this legal duty, causing you to be discriminated against, you will have grounds to make a claim.
This discrimination may have been instigated by your co-workers or managers. Even so, your employer is responsible for the actions of their staff. In some circumstances, your employer may even be at fault if you suffer discrimination at the hands of customers, clients or suppliers.
What Should I Do?
If you have encountered religious discrimination at work, please contact our Employment Solicitors for free initial legal advice. You only have three months to make a discrimination claim, so you need to act fast.
If you have not already done so, we might advise that you try to resolve the matter informally first. Or, we might recommend raising a formal grievance before taking the matter to Court. This is because an Employment Tribunal is viewed, not as a last resort, but a way of settling workplace disputes where all other options have failed.
However, if these grievance procedures do not produce a satisfactory result, our Employment Lawyers can help you take legal action against your employer. If your claim is successful, you’ll be awarded compensation for the injury to your feelings, and for any financial losses you suffered because of the discrimination.
In the meantime, we recommend that you collect as much evidence as possible about your workplace discrimination. Keep anything that could support your case, including emails. Also, write down conversations in which you have been bullied, harassed or victimised on account of your religion or beliefs.
Will I Lose My Job?
Your employer is not legally allowed to terminate your employment for exercising your right to make a claim. If you lose your job because you make a workplace discrimination claim, you may also be entitled to bring an unfair dismissal claim.
Can Religious or Belief Discrimination Ever be Lawful?
It is worth noting that in some situations, religious or belief discrimination can be lawful. This might happen if there is a legitimate reason for the discrimination. For example, firefighters may be told to remove headwear, indirectly discriminating against Sikhs who wear turbans. Yet it is allowed on account of health and safety reasons.
What is Religious Discrimination at Work?
The Equality Act 2010 states that you are not allowed to be discriminated against at work because of your religion or beliefs. This includes if you:
- Follow an organised religion, such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Sikhism
- Follow a smaller religion or sect, such as Scientology or Rastafarianism
- Hold profound beliefs which affect your way of life and the way you see the world. This covers non-religious and philosophical beliefs
But what might amount to religious discrimination?
In short, discrimination means that you are treated unfairly because of who you are, or because of who you associate with. It does not matter if those discriminating against you have got their facts right. For instance, you might be treated less favourably on account of being Jewish. This amounts to religious discrimination, regardless of whether you’re Jewish or not.
Examples of religious discrimination at work include:
- Being overlooked for a job or promotion because of your religion or beliefs
- Being asked about your beliefs during an interview when it holds no relevance to the role
- Being bullied or harassed by colleagues, managers, suppliers or customers because of your religion or beliefs
- Being paid less because of your religion or beliefs
- Being dismissed because of your religion or beliefs
- Being put at a disadvantage because of a workplace policy, such as having to work on holy days
- Being treated less favourably because you are married to, or have close ties with, someone of a particular religion or belief system
Speak to an Employment Solicitor
It is illegal in England and Wales to discriminate against someone at work because of their religious or philosophical beliefs.
If you’re experiencing behaviour at work that amounts to this, please speak to one of our Employment Solicitors as soon as possible. We can help you understand your situation from a legal standpoint, and what to do next.
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