The Right To Wear a Cross and other Employment Law cases

April 18, 2013

Interesting Employment Law Cases

Discrimination – religion. The right to wear a cross.

The Euopean Court of Human Rights found that Ms Eweida, a Christian, was discriminated against when British Airways refused to allow her
to visibly wear a crucifix at work, in contravention of its uniform policy.  The ECHR ruled that Ms Eweida’s rights of religious expression had been unfairly restricted by British Airways as refusing her right to wear a cross was not proportionate to BA’s aim of maintaining a particular image. BA has since amended its uniform code to allow employees to wear religious jewellery. The ECHR awarded the claimant 2,000 euros in damages and 30,000 in costs.

Dismissal – unreasonable instruction?

This case emphasises the importance of clear management instructions and of considering all the surrounding circumstances before making a decision.

Mr Sanots was a factory manager and regularly worked 12 hour days. He became ill with work related stress and took two weeks off work. When he returned her was offered voluntary redundancy which he turned down but agreed to accept demotion to warehouse manager with a reduction of £8000 in salary and a working week of 40 hours plus.

He already had a disciplinary warning on file for failure to follow instructions. Late one evening he was told to load an urgent order of four pies. The pies were in a spate locked unit which would have taken some time to access, and he was unsure which vehicle to put them in so, as he had already worked 14 hours that day he decided to load the pies the next morning.

They were delivered on time with no damage to the business.

However he was dismissed on the basis that, if he had been taken ill overnight there may have been a problem.

The tribunal found that the decision to dismiss was outside the band of reasonable responses. Despite the demotions and the reduction in pay, Mr Santos had continued to work 11 hours a day and that day he had worked 14 hours. All of the good had been loaded expect for the four pies and Mr Santos has loaded them the following morning anyway. There was no reason to suggest that if Mr Santos had been ill he would not have reported the outstanding task.

The cost to the Company for making the wrong decision and terminating his employment unfairly was £59,315 in compensation!

Compulsory work experience scheme legally flawed!

A case covered by the media relating to a graduate who was forced to work in Poundland.

The Government’s mandatory work experience scheme were found to be unlawful by the Court of Appeal. Judges ruled on the case of a geology graduate Cait Reilly who was told that she had to undertake unpaid work experience in poundland for two week or lose her unemployment benefits.

This meant that Rielly had to leave her volunteer role at a museum to clean floors and stack shelves at the budget retailed, and argued that the stint had done little to improve her job prospects and the compulsory aspect had breached her human rights.

The high court decided last August that the Work Acadamy Sheme was legal, but part of that judgement was overruled by the court of Appeal.

The court found in favour of HGV drive Jamieson Wilson who was given similar work experience placement as part of the Community Action

Responding to the lasts ruling the DWP pointed out that the judges had backed the principle behind its welfare to work scheme and insisted
that it would be pushing through new regulations.



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