Lady Hale on indirect discrimination: Essop and Naeem

Introduction

In Essop & Ors v Home Office (UK Border Agency) [2017] UKSC 27, there were two conjoined cases: Essop and Naeem v Secretary of State for Justice. The Supreme Court gave a unanimous judgment on both.

The issue before the Court was the interpretation of indirect discrimination as defined in s 19 of the Equality Act 2010: Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 2nd April

We managed to avoid initiating or endorsing “fake news” on April Fool’s Day…

…although we did enjoy Bishop Paul Bayes’ tweet: “Anglican news: Sodor & Man annexes @LivDiocese. Bp of Warrington invokes Article 50. @paulbayes flees, demands Methodist/CofE citizenship“. However, at L&RUK we will continue to report on issues relating to Brexit, which has tended to attract “fake news” and misinformation from both sides.

Talking of which … Brexit

The Brexit process began on Wednesday, when the UK Ambassador to the EU, Tim Barrow, handed over the Prime Minister’s formal letter of notification under Article 50 TEU to the President of the European Council. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 19th March

A week dominated by Brexit, ‘First Minister vs Prime Minister’ and the fall-out from the first judgments of the CJEU on religious manifestation… 

Brexit

As expected, on Monday the Commons rejected the Lords amendments to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, the Lords did not insist on their amendments and the bill passed. So after a total of 70 hours of debate, the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill completed its passage through Parliament and received Royal Assent on Thursday. The BBC reports that the Prime Minister is expected to wait until the end of the month formally to notify the EU of the UK’s intention to leave.

Meanwhile in Scotland… Continue reading

Urgent Commons question on CJEU rulings in Achbita and Bougnaoui

Visible Religious Symbols: European Court Ruling

This morning, 15 March, Mrs Maria Miller (Basingstoke) (Con) asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities “if she will make a statement on the recent Court of Justice of the European Union ruling allowing employers to ban workers from wearing religious dress and symbols in the workplace”. Following is a quick summary of the most important points.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities (Caroline Dinenage) replied as follows:

“The Government are completely opposed to discrimination, including on grounds of gender or religion, or both. It is the right of all women to choose how they dress, and we do not believe that the judgments change that. Exactly the same legal protections apply today as applied before the rulings. In both the Achbita case and the Bougnaoui case, the judgment was that there was no direct discrimination, but that there was some discrimination. A rule is directly discriminatory if it treats someone less favourably because of their sex, race, religion or whatever. A rule is indirectly discriminatory if, on the face of it, it treats everyone the same, but some people, because of their race, religion, sex and so on, find it harder to comply than others do. Indirect discrimination may be justifiable if an employer is acting in a proportionate manner to achieve a legitimate aim. Continue reading

Newsflash: Commons urgent question on religious clothing in the workplace

We understand that there is to be an Urgent Question in the Commons after Question Time today, 15 March, on the impact of the CJEU judgments in Achbita and Bougnaoui on wearing religious clothing in the workplace. We shall report it as soon as the uncorrected Hansard is available on the Commons website.

The CJEU & hijabs at work: Achbita and Bougnaoui

The CJEU Grand Chamber has handed down preliminary rulings in the Belgian and French hijab cases.

The Court has leaned towards the employer in Achbita but towards the employee in Bougnaoui – reflecting the opinions of the two Advocates General.

Background: Achbita

G4S Secure Solutions NV is a Belgian company that provides security, guarding and reception services. Samira Achbita, a Muslim, worked as a receptionist for G4S and after three years she insisted that she should be allowed to wear a hijab at work. G4S prohibits employees from wearing any visible religious, political or philosophical symbols at work and, consequently, dismissed her. The Belgian Cour de Cassation/Hof van Cassatie, before which her wrongful dismissal appeal is pending, asked the CJEU for a preliminary ruling clarifying the prohibition under EU law of discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, as follows: Continue reading