Expert, Affordable, Employment Advice

When does sharing of religious views become harassment?

While discussing religious matters on a consensual basis is permissible, employees need to be aware that the repeated and/or forceful imposition of religious views may amount to harassment, as the following case illustrates.

C was a born-again Christian working as a senior manager in the NHS. X, a junior Muslim colleague, complained that C had attempted to recruit her to Christianity by praying over her, laying hands on her, giving her a book about conversion to Christianity, and inviting her to an evangelical church. X complained that C’s behavior had ruined her first year of practice.

The employer conducted a disciplinary investigation. C said the behavior was consensual. However the employer decided that C had put pressure on X and C was given a final written warning, reduced on appeal to a first written warning.

C brought a claim of direct and indirect discrimination and harassment on the grounds of religious belief. She also alleged that the employer had breached her right under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights to manifest her religious beliefs.

The EAT dismissed her appeal. It was a fundamental premise of the appeal that the manifestation of the belief relied on by C was her sharing her faith with a consenting colleague. However, X had not consented to C’s actions. C had blurred professional boundaries and put pressure on X.

(See Wasteney v East London NHS Foundation Trust, EAT).

For further information, contact Sarah Rushton (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), tel 020 7539 4147.

This blog is intended for general information only and should not be considered as giving advice in relation to any individual case nor be taken as applying to any particular case. No liability is accepted for any such use of the information contained.