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Never Discuss Religion and Politics

View profile for Susan Mayall
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Is it unfair to dismiss an employee for proselytising?

Not if the proselytising is improper, held the Court of Appeal in Kuteh v Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust.

Religious beliefs and whether to share these with patients was at the forefront of this case as the Claimant, a nurse, working in a pre-operative assessment role, would chat with patients about her religious beliefs, share prayer with them, offer to pray for them and ask patients from time to time to sing a psalm with her.

Some patients made complaints about her and about this type of behaviour and it led to the ward matron speaking directly to the nurse about the unsuitability of this behaviour. She was asked to refrain from it, to which she agreed.

Disciplinary proceedings were brought when her religious behaviour continued and the Claimant was dismissed.

An employment tribunal found the dismissal fair and the EAT refused permission to appeal.

Commenting on the case, Head of Employment Susan Mayall said:  “This came as no surprise to me, employers need to be aware of the need for correct policies and procedures at all times and of course appropriate training of all staff and managers.

“We have retainer clients working in this sector such as gtd healthcare who have equality, inclusion and diversity policies and procedures in place and undergo regular training with regards to what is and what is not appropriate behaviour in the workplace.   With relevant policies in place such a situation may have been nipped in the bud and not resulted in an Employment Tribunal claim being brought and the associated time, trouble and expense caused to the employer,” she added.

In this particular case the Claimant later complained ‘that the tribunal had failed to distinguish between true evangelism and improper proselytism in considering the impact of the right under Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights to manifest religion on the fairness of the dismissal’ in her appeal against the ruling.

This was dismissed by The Court of Appeal who said that ‘the Claimant had acted inappropriately both by improperly proselytising to patients and by failing to follow a lawful management order.’

It was upheld that the disciplinary process was fairly carried out and the conclusion reached was reasonable, the appeal was dismissed and the fairness of the dismissal was upheld.

 

For further advice on Employment Law, policies, contracts and dismissal call Susan Mayall on 0161 785 3500 or email susan.mayall@pearsonlegal.co.uk

 

 

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers LLP or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.