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At Kew Law we have the extensive knowledge and the expertise to provide you with advice on issues of religious discrimination in the workplace. We can assist you with any religious or non-religious discrimination claim you may have against your employer.

It is an unfortunate reality of life that many people experience discrimination at work on the grounds of their religion or beliefs. Discrimination of religious grounds can be closely related to race discrimination.

What is religious discrimination?

The Equality Act 2010 specifies that you must not be discriminated against if:

  • You are – or are not – of a particular religion
  • You hold – or do not hold – a particular philosophical belief
  • Someone thinks you are of a particular religion or hold a particular belief – known as discrimination by perception
  • You are connected to someone who has a religion or belief – known as discrimination by association

The law prohibits discrimination on not only grounds of religion or belief but also protects those with non-religious beliefs, such as atheism, humanism or philosophical beliefs.

To be included in the Act, philosophical beliefs must be genuinely held and believed as more than an opinion. They must apply to an aspect of human life or behaviour.

The Act also extends to political beliefs including Marxism, Communism or free-market Capitalism, but not merely to membership of a political party.

Scientific beliefs can also be covered – for example a belief in Darwinism – if this is the basis for any discrimination suffered.

Types of religious discrimination

There are four different types of religious discrimination:

  • Direct discrimination – when someone treats you worse than another person in a similar situation due to your religion or beliefs. Direct discrimination can still occur when both the discriminator and the person being discriminated against hold the same religious or philosophical beliefs
  • Indirect discrimination – when a policy or procedure in the workplace applies to everyone but puts you at a disadvantage due to your religion or beliefs. This type of discrimination is only permitted if your employer can prove the action or policy is business critical – known as objective justification
  • Harassment – when someone makes you feel offended, degraded or humiliated
  • Victimisation – when you are treated unfairly as a result of making a complaint regarding religious discrimination, or you are supporting someone else who has made a complaint

Are there any circumstances where religious discrimination is lawful?

In a place of employment, there are some circumstances where a difference in treatment due to religion or belief is deemed as lawful, including:

  • Cases of occupational requirement, where belonging to a specific religion is key to a job, such as a faith school employing teachers of a certain religion
  • An employer is encouraging a religious group that is under-represented or disadvantaged in an activity or role
  • An organisation is restricting a role to only include people of a specific religion or belief, such as a church of a particular faith

Cases of religious discrimination can be highly complex so if you think you may have a claim for religion or belief discrimination against your employer, you should contact us for an initial discussion with a specialist employment law solicitor. To make an appointment, call us on 0333 322 1000 or 0800 987 8156.

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