The right to pray and work

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By Nabila Mallick

Recently I represented a white female Muslim in a claim of direct and indirect religious discrimination under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003. The Direct Discrimination claim was that she was treated less favourably as a Muslim in not being provided with uninterrupted breaks.

The indirect discrimination claim was wider. She claimed that her employer applied PCPs that put Muslims at a particular disadvantage to non-Muslims in that: supervisors and duty managers were always required to carry their radios at all times (even during breaks), resulting in prayers being interrupted; supervisors and duty mangers were not permitted breaks at a time of their choosing; and only the first-aid room (in a noisy part of the building) was made available for prayer.

In this case, the claimant’s consultant psychiatrist was of the opinion that her situation in the workplace was the cause of her severe depression. She had been prescribed with a high dosage of Citalopram. In her words, the room that she was provided with for the purposes of prayer was like having the radio on while she prayed — because of all conversations held outside of the room could be heard…

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