Baggage-handling, pastoring and sexual orientation: Houston

Colin Houston worked for Swissport as a baggage-handler at Belfast International Airport. He is also a heterosexual Christian pastor who disapproves of same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage. He was dismissed in September 2016 following a series of incidents [6]. He took his case to a Fair Employment Tribunal, claiming direct discrimination, harassment and victimisation on grounds of sexual orientation and/or religious belief/political opinion [28(1)]. Continue reading

Limits on preaching in a prison chapel: Trayhorn

Background

In Trayhorn v The Secretary of State for Justice (Religion or Belief Discrimination) [2017] UKEAT 0304/16/0108, Mr Trayhorn was a gardener/horticulturalist at HM Prison Littlehey, which houses a large number of sex offenders and young offenders. He has also been an ordained Pentecostal minister since 2009. At a Pentecostal service in the prison chapel on 31 May 2014, he spoke to a congregation of prisoners about homosexuality as sinful, quoting from 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11.

There had been a previous complaint by the LGBT coordinator in February 2014 about Mr Trayhorn’s comments during a service on 8 February 2014. Continue reading

Nurses, patients and inappropriate conversations about religion: Kuteh

The issue of nurses having inappropriate conversations about religion with patients has come up again.

In Mrs S Kuteh v Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust (England and Wales: Unfair Dismissal) [2017] UKET 2302764/2016, the Claimant, a nursing sister employed by the Trust, was a “committed Christian” [12]. In March and April 2016, staff in her department told her superiors that patients had been complaining that when they were being assessed by Mrs Kuteh she had been raising matters of religion and faith with them: Continue reading

Québec: may a Jew be compelled not to work on Saturdays?

May a Jew be compelled by his employer not to work on the Sabbath? That question recently came before the Québec Human Rights Tribunal.

Background

In Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (Zilberg) c. 9220-3454 Québec Inc. (Spa Liv Zen (Spa Orazen)) 2017 QCTDP 13 (CanLII), the claimant, Richard Zilberg, was a hairstylist employed by Spa Orazen and its owner, Iris Gressy. He had a strong Jewish identity and attachment to his religion but chose not to observe Shabbat. So he worked six days a week including Saturday – which was the busiest day of the week at the salon. [6].

In 2012, Ms Gressy, who was herself Jewish, suggested that Mr Zilberg should stop working on Saturdays because he was a Jew. Continue reading

General Pharmaceutical Council guidance on religion, personal values & beliefs

The General Pharmaceutical Council – the independent regulator for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy premises in Great Britain – has published In practice: Guidance on religion, personal values and beliefs. In summary, it notes that

“In some cases, a pharmacy professional’s religion, personal values or beliefs may influence their day-to-day practice, particularly whether they feel able to provide certain services. This might include, for example, services related to:

  • contraception (routine or emergency)
  • fertility medicines
  • hormonal therapies
  • mental health and wellbeing
  • substance misuse
  • sexual health.”

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Law and religion round-up – 18th June

And in a week overshadowed by the horrendous fire at Grenfell Tower and the fallout from the General Election …

Access for Northern Ireland women to free abortion in England

On Thursday we posted Frank’s analysis of R (A and B) v Secretary of State for Health [2017] UKSC 41 in which the Supreme Court considered:

  • Was the Secretary of State ‘s failure to exercise his power to require abortion services to be provided through the NHS in England to women ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland unlawful as a failure to discharge his duty under s 3 of the National Health Service Act 2006 to “take such steps as he considers necessary to meet all reasonable requirements” for services?
  • Does the continuing failure to provide free abortion services in England to women ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland infringe Articles 14 (discrimination) and 8 (private and family life) ECHR?

The appeal was dismissed by a 3-2 majority, and we suggested that it is quite possible that the case is bound for Strasbourg. Continue reading

Parish Music Guidance: employment issues

Part II of our analysis of new CofE legal opinion on organists and parish music

An earlier post considered the Church of England’s updated legal advice Parish Music: organists and choirmasters and church musicians (*the Opinion”), focusing on the issues relating to organists (and “all musicians in similar positions”), music and the clergy. Here we comment the employment issues addressed in the document and consider in more detail the cases referred to in the Opinion: Sholl v PCC of St Michael’s with St James, Croydon, paragraph 12, and three German cases before the ECtHR – Obst, Schüth and Siebenhaar, paragraph 18. For completeness, additional material on of Ready-Mixed Concrete (South East) Ltd v Minister of Pensions and National Insurance and Neary v Dean of Westminster has also been included. Specific references to the canon law of the Church of England apart, much of the advice is relevant to other religious communities.

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