News and Events

Religious Belief Discrimination

  • Posted

[Thanks to Ed McFarlane of EEF for providing this case summary]

The EAT (Underhill P) has handed down its decision in McFarlane v Relate, which is authority for the proposition that:-

  • following Ladele (the Registrar case), dismissing a Christian who was a relationship counsellor required to counsel same-sex couples about their sex lives when he equivocated about conforming to that requirement, was not direct discrimination, as it arose from a manifestation of belief rather than the belief itself
  • indirect discrimination was justified since the employer had the legitimate aim of providing services equally to all users, achieved by requiring staff to participate in the provision of services, even if that conflicted their with religious beliefs
  • this type of dismissal can be fair for conduct or SOSR, but the EAT deprecated the increasing tendency of employers to dismiss on grounds of 'loss of trust and confidence', when the concept of trust and confidence is a constructive dismissal - not really an actual dismissal - concept.

The EAT decided the appeal with the parties' consent despite the pending Court of Appeal Judgment in Ladele.