An employer took the wrong decision and fired an employee for wanting time off to mark a religious holiday.
In a case about religious discrimination, an employment tribunal decided against personal injury solicitors firm, NNE Law, and awarded their employee £26,000.
The tribunal found that the firm breached employment law even though it applied their policy on annual leave. It put litigation executive, Mr Bialick, at an unfair disadvantage because he was Jewish.
Mr Bialick had booked a holiday for 8 and 9 April 2020 two months earlier, to observe the Passover.
He emailed his employer asking them to honour his holiday request because it observed a religious event. But the employer responded by firing him.
The employer argued that his presence in the office as ‘essential’ to the firm. Mr Bialick had already taken days off when he followed the government’s covid direction to stay at home. The employer had become impatient with the employee due to his absence in March.
NNE Law sent a letter to Mr Bialick on 2 April criticising him for his absence, and stated that due to ‘staffing issues’, he should work rather than take his annual leave.
After, Mr Bialick emailed his employer asking to honour his religious observance, NNE Law sent him a letter on 9 April terminating his employment.
In its judgement, the employment tribunal noted that although the firm’s policy was about meeting the needs of clients, no evidence was provided that Mr Bialick’s presence was necessary.
It also stated that there were other, less discriminatory ways than requiring Mr Bialick’s presence at the office.
The tribunal stated that the firm’s decision to call on their employee to decide whether to cancel his holiday and therefore fail to observe their religious practice or face the sack is discrimination against Jewish employees.