Rising number of Christian discrimination claims

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Contract

Don’t get hammered. Manufacturers should guard against the risk of religious discrimination, following the growing number of cases brought by Christian workers
Don’t get hammered. Manufacturers should guard against the risk of religious discrimination, following the growing number of cases brought by Christian workers
Manufacturers need to be increasingly aware of putting their businesses at risk of accusations of religious discrimination when seeking to change employee terms and conditions, with a legal expert reporting a growing trend in the number of tribunal cases brought by Christian workers.

Teresa Dolan, a partner at Eversheds law firm, said many accusations often stemmed from the unintentional consequences of quite small changes made in order to meet operational needs.

One area where legal experts have seen a rise in recent years concerned claims for religious discrimination from Christians who have been asked to work on Sundays.

Dolan, who was speaking at a seminar staged at the Food and Drink Federation’s (FDF) London base, asked delegates – many of whom were from the HR departments of several of the UK’s major manufacturers, if they had specific clauses in their staff contracts which explicitly stated that employees might have to work on Sundays. Few did.

‘Can of discrimination worms’

“That might well be something you’d want to have a look at,”​ she said. “Trying to change employee terms and conditions, either with their consent or by forcing them through, can unintentionally open up a whole can of discrimination worms. We have seen a number of claims for indirect religious discrimination over the last couple of years when Christians have been asked to work on Sundays.”

Food firms also needed to be ever more vigilant of the risk of being accused of unintentionally discriminating against women.

She said even minor changes, such as moving a shift finish from 2pm to 3pm without considering the implications that could have on childcare issues and the ability to collect children from school, could put a firm at risk.

Legitimate aims

“Changes like this can be justified to achieve what are termed legitimate aims, such as operational requirements, through proportionate means. And the proportionate means are important here. You need to show you have communicated the change early, held discussions about these issues and tried to resolve them,”​ she said.

Well-worded contracts would often mitigate many of these risks, Dolan added. It was vital that companies had a thorough knowledge of the different types of agreements in place, both contractual and via official documents, especially if it had acquired other businesses, she insisted.

“Before seeking to make any changes with terms and conditions there must be a full sweep of documents – not just contracts of employment,” ​said Dolan. “It might sound obvious but there are plenty of companies which have had severe problems because they weren’t aware at the outset what they were dealing with.”

Related news

1 comment

A Warning to Employers

Posted by Stormbringer,

To all employers everywhere.

Please read this story very carefully and understand the risks you run for your business or organisation whenever you employ a religious person.

Please understand that we now live in an extremely litigious age where we have the most terrible employment laws on the books that actually favour self-important non-entities who are desperately keen to impose their feeble-minded fantasies on everyone else.

As a rebuke against those who keep banging on about their “roots” the broadcaster, Jonathan Meades, once pointed out that "roots are for vegetables" and by exactly the same token “identity politics” are for those who possess no identity or even the vaguest hint of personality or character. These uncharismatic bores are so utter lacking in anything even resembling an "identity" that they are consequently compelled to elevate themselves as the expense of everyone else including other employees and especially their employers.

The costs to your business or organisation can be immense and you can save yourself a fortune simply by throwing the CVs of self-proclaimed religious people straight into the waste paper bin. Obviously, don't ever tell anyone or you will find yourself in court anyway. Instead, just nod politely during the interview and employ the non-believer instead.

Non-believers will simply do the job that they are paid and contracted to do without the stupid, self-important exceptionalism that leads the religious to believe that they are somehow more important that other everyone else.

Non-believers will not use the law to bully their employers into giving them special favours such as defying the corporate dress code or endless amounts of time off for praying and so on.

You have been fairly warned.

Report abuse

Follow us

Featured Jobs

View more


Food Manufacture Podcast

Listen to the Food Manufacture podcast