Dismissal of Christian employee for expressing negative views on homosexuality was discriminatory

An employment tribunal has held that a Christian nursery employee was directly and indirectly discriminated against by her employer on the grounds of her religion or belief when it dismissed her for expressing negative views about a colleague’s homosexuality. However, the employee’s claim of harassment was not upheld because the tribunal found no evidence that the conduct was unwanted by the employee, who welcomed the opportunity to discuss her religious beliefs.

Despite press reports to the contrary, the tribunal’s findings were largely due to the employer’s numerous procedural failings in the disciplinary process, which shifted the burden of proof to the employer who could provide no reasonable explanation for its treatment of the employee, which the tribunal found to be based on stereotypical negative assumptions of the beliefs of evangelical Christians.

Although the employee in this case did not have sufficient qualifying service to bring an unfair dismissal claim, the tribunal made it clear that inappropriately manifesting a religious belief could, in some circumstances, be a fair reason for dismissal. (Mbuyi v Newpark Childcare (Shepherds Bush) Ltd ET/3300656/14.)