Discrimination on the grounds of religion

Employment law protects employees from discrimination based on their religion or belief.

Due to the 2010 Equality Act, an employment tribunal would define religion, or belief, as any religion or in fact a philosophical belief. Employment lawyers would interpret this as including Christianity, as a spiritual belief, and atheism, as a philosophical one.

The Equality Act encourages employers to take reasonable steps to develop policies and facilities supportive of workers’ religious beliefs. These areas include holidays for religious festivals, prayer rooms, and washrooms to be used before prayer, undressing or showering with colleagues, food preparation, and religious dress codes.

Employment law proscribes less favourable treatment due to direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, victimisation, harassment. It would also proscribe treating people negatively because of the perception that a worker has a religion.

Employment law explains that direct discrimination is unequal treatment on the basis of an employee’s religion. Indirect discrimination is the use of an unnecessary condition that tends to unfavourably affect people with a religious belief.

Victimisation is unfavourable treatment of an employee because he or she has complained of detrimental treatment on the grounds of religion. 

An employer may be legally responsible for the discriminatory behaviour of his or her employees. But an employment tribunal would accept that an employer has no legal liability if he or she can show that policies and decisions were taken solely on business grounds and that an effort was made to reduce the actions’ negative affects.