Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co

UK 200 2014 position: 28

Employment law 2013 review: religion or belief discrimination

We began the year with the final chapter in the long-running series of cases on manifestation of religious belief. In the combined appeals of Ladele and McFarlane v the United Kingdom and Eweida and Chaplin v the United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) considered whether UK law adequately protected the right to manifest one’s religion or belief, as protected by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Was Article 9 breached when: Ms Eweida and Ms Chaplin were restricted from visibly wearing a cross or crucifix at work; Ms Ladele was disciplined for refusing to carry out civil partnership ceremonies; and Mr McFarlane was dismissed for refusing to provide psycho-sexual counselling to same-sex couples?

Before the UK courts, Ms Eweida and Ms Chaplin failed to establish that the requirement not to wear a cross put others at a similar disadvantage. In addition, in the case of Ms Chaplin, the no-necklace rule was objectively justified on health and safety grounds. Similarly the treatment of Ms Ladele and Mr McFarlane was found to be objectively justified, basically the need of the employers to provide a full service…

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