It is against the law to discriminate against someone due to your religion or belief or even lack of religion or belief. This is covered under the Equality Act.
The Equality Act states you must not be discriminated against because:
- you are not or are of a particular religion.
- you hold or do not hold a particular belief.
- someone thinking you are of a particular belief or religion.
- you relate to someone with a particular belief or religion.
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This is defined as ‘unwanted conduct’ and must relate to a relevant protected characteristic and in this case, it would be religion. The harassment must have the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. It would not matter if it were either intentional or unintentional.
This is where an employee is put at a detriment due to their religion causing them damage harm or loss. This includes making an allegation of discrimination, supporting a compliant of discrimination, giving evidence relating to a compliant about discrimination or doing anything else for the purposes of the Equality Act. This employee can be ignored, denied opportunities, or unfairly disciplined for speaking out.
Indirect Religious Discrimination
This is where the employer sets rules that apply to everyone, but which unfairly disadvantage employees with their beliefs or religion.
An example of this maybe:
- Requiring a dress code that excludes people from wearing the items for example a head scarf.
- Unfairly setting work schedules that prevent employees from taking time off for religious observance.
- Unfairly banning wearing religious items such as the bracelets worn by Sikhs.
This is where the employer treats a specific employee less favourable due to their religious or beliefs. For example, if an employer does not recruit a candidate due to their religion would be seen as discrimination.
How to deal with religious discrimination at work?
- Speak to manager or line manager and tell them who is causing the problem
- Follow companies’ grievance procedure
- Make an appeal against grievance procedure.
- Raise a compliant to the employment tribunal (seek legal advice)
How can I approach my employer?
If you need time off for a religious event for example if you can, you should tell your employer in advance the days you need off. Your employer should be able to make reasonable requests on a ‘first come first served’ basis if many people are taking time off. If may also be employees need time off to pray during the day, if you are in that situation, it is best to speak to your employer directly and come to a compromise.
If you feel as if you have suffered from discrimination and would like some advice, please give our team a call 0330 221 0684 or visit our website https://www.klglaw.co.uk/.
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