At the time Dr David Mackereth claimed that the Department for Work and Pensions discriminated against his religious beliefs because he would not use pronouns relating to people’s ‘chosen’ sex.
According to Acas, however, employees or jobseekers are able to refrain from carrying out certain tasks for example if they go against their own personal or religious beliefs. It states: “A job applicant or employee may ask to opt out of certain duties because of their religion or belief. Examples might include handling meat, alcohol or contraceptives.”
In regard to alleged cases such as Perez’s, it’s crucial for HR to have a better understanding of the different personal and religious beliefs each employee may have. This is a notion supported by Emily Lofting-Kisakye, HR Director at lifestyle retail brand Urban Outfitters, who previously told HR Grapevine: “HR should be promoting understanding of personal values and beliefs and working with the business to find adapted ways of working to satisfy all parties.”
While there are currently no strict guidelines in the UK based on whether an employee can be sacked due to their personal beliefs, Charlie Wood, Employment Law & HR Solicitor at SAS Daniels, alluded that this could soon be something that the courts decide to support in the future.
With this in mind, HR should ensure no employees are discriminated against due to their personal beliefs, and should therefore encourage open communication between staff and their superiors in order to prevent situations similar to that of the former Trump employee from occurring.
Wood explained: “It would all very much depend on the facts of the relevant case – however the courts have supported dismissals in the past where someone’s refusal to carry out work on the basis of their personal beliefs caused another group of people to be discriminated against. Essentially, employees cannot use religious beliefs as an excuse to treat people less favourably.”
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