What was the recent development in religious discrimination?
An important case on the topic of religion or belief discrimination was updated on 19 April 2020.
Ms Bond was employed by Lads and Dads’ Barbers in Colwyn Bay since August 2016. She attended work regularly until 8 February 2017, thereafter through to her dismissal on the 11 July 2018, she remained an employee though absent through ill-health. Ms Bond’s Greek and Yemeni background was known to her employer.
Ms Bond claimed that salon owner, Mrs Joanne Large and her daughter Miss Leanne Large repeatedly discriminated against her, after she described herself as Muslim in the presence of her colleagues.
Following that disclosure, the claimant said she was treated unfavourably. She was given shortened notice of her shifts and her duties were altered. Ms Bond claimed that on a couple of occasions, she was asked to remove rubbish from the salon and clean up dog excrement in the car park. Ms Bond also stated that her employer failed to pay her accrued holiday during her sickness absence and was filmed on a mobile phone by Miss Leanne Large whenever she walked past the respondent’s salon.
In response, Miss Large stated that Ms Bond had become more distant and less talkative. The employer alleged that a customer, a boy, had made anonymous allegations of improper conduct against Bond. The Employment Tribunal then established that the allegations could have related to a different employee of the Lads and Dads’ Barbers.
The Tribunal stated that because Miss Large failed to attend the tribunal to confirm the accuracy of her statements, it hadn’t sufficient evidence to counter the Claimant’s account: “For those reasons we have concluded that Miss Large exaggerated the content of the anonymous letter”.
In addition, the Tribunal was informed by one of Lads and Dads’ Barbers’ customer that Miss Large told him that she “had recently learned that [Bond] was a Muslim and that she couldn’t have that”.
Judge R Powell concluded that: “In the absence of any contrary evidence, we find on the balance of probabilities that the direction to take out the rubbish and clean up dog excrement were acts of direct discrimination on the grounds of perceived religion.”
He further said: “The discriminatory conduct of the respondent led to the claimant’s disability, her extended sickness absence, her continuing ill-health and aggravated an existing mental health vulnerability and the respondent is ordered to pay compensation to the claimant, in respect of injury to feelings and interest, in the gross sum of £19,352.00.”
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