Alan McCormack | Senior Associate

Not your religion

It has recently been held by the Employment Appeal Tribunal that dismissal of a teacher at an Ultraorthodox Jewish nursery who was dismissed for refusing to lie about cohabiting with her boyfriend, did not constitute discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief.

In this case, Gan Nenachem Hendon Limited v De Groen, Ms De Groen’s boyfriend revealed that the couple lived together in the presence of parents of the nursery/school.  Cohabitation outside marriage is viewed to be wrong by the Ultraorthodox Jewish Chabad Principles.

This lead to complaints regarding Ms De Groen, and the Head Teacher and nursery’s Managing Director stated that this would risk damaging the nursery’s reputation in the eyes of the parents, and therefore asked her to tell them that she was no longer living with her boyfriend (even if that was not true).  Ms De Groen refused to lie, asked for an apology and was ultimately dismissed.

At the first instance, in the Employment Tribunal Ms De Groen won her claims of discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief (she also had a claim for discrimination grounds of sex which she was successful in, and upheld on appeal).  However, on appeal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that the Tribunal had erred in finding that her dismissal had constituted less favourable treatment on the grounds of religion or belief in circumstances where it was connected to the nursery’s religious belief and not the Claimant’s.  Therefore, her claim failed in respect of discrimination on grounds of religion or belief, because the nursery had acted on its own beliefs and Ms De Groen’s non-compliance with those beliefs, and not in relation to Ms De Groen’s own beliefs.

Should you require any advice regarding discrimination of any kind, please contact our specialist team today.

Alan McCormack

Alan McCormack

Employment Law Team

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