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Religious discrimination and working on Sundays

11 January 2013

The EAT (Employment Appeal Tribunal) has rejected an appeal by an employee that she had been discriminated against on grounds of her religion, Christianity, in being required to work on Sundays.

Mrs Mba’s contract of employment required her to work on Sundays but she felt obliged to abstain from this. Mrs Mba failed in her claim for constructive dismissal and indirect discrimination on grounds of religion and belief in the Employment Tribunal and appealed to the EAT.

 The EAT held that the requirement by the employer for Mrs Mba to work on Sundays was objectively justified and therefore not indirect discrimination. The employer had relied on reasons including that they required an appropriate gender balance and seniority mix on each shift; fair treatment of staff and a cost-effective service in view of budgetary constraints.

 However, the EAT emphasised that the judgment was not a ‘ringing endorsement’ of an individual’s right not to work on Sunday or vice versa, and that each case must depend on its own facts.

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