MoJA Christian worker has failed in her attempt to sue her former employer in a tribunal for religious belief harassment.

M, a care home nurse who is Christian, brought a claim for religious belief harassment and unfair dismissal (among other claims) against her former employer, P Care Home Limited, and former colleagues after she alleged that she had been harassed by her former co-workers and unfairly dismissed from her job.

The Employment Tribunal heard evidence from M (whose name has not been revealed for legal reasons) that her line manager had continuously used swear words in the workplace that had a racial overtone, such as saying “oh my fucking God” and “Jesus fucking Christ”. M stated that she had not complained about her manager swearing at the time for fear of ‘rocking the boat’ but had in fact found the swearing offensive.

M’s former manager admitted swearing with racial overtones but denied that the swearing had been directed at M, nor that the swearing was intended to offend M. She stated – and was supported by other evidence – that she had used such swear-words when M was not in attendance. Further, M’s manager denied that stating that “prayers don’t work for me” was intended to be personally offensive to M but simply a statement that she did not believe in the power of prayer.

Although the Employment Tribunal found in M’s favour in her claim for unfair dismissal (and awarded her £18,417 in compensation for loss of earnings), it rejected her claims for unlawful harassment because of religious belief. The Employment Tribunal found that the manager had sworn with racial overtones and that this constituted unwanted conduct. However, the Tribunal also found that this swearing could not reasonably have been perceived by M to have created an offensive environment for her, nor that the remarks related specifically to M’s religion – they were commonly-used, albeit blasphemous, swear words and were not intended to be abusive towards religion generally or any religion in particular.

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “If employees are particularly offended by any of the conduct of their colleagues then they should use the established grievance procedure to complain about this – if there is no grievance procedure then they should simply write to a relevant person to set out what their complaints are. A failure to do so can be the difference between winning and losing an Employment Tribunal case.”

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Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees

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Chris

Couldn’t be happier with how Redmans successfully handled our seemingly tricky case. By being clear and detailed every step of the way, with the utmost professionalism and courtesy, they made it an informative and eye-opening process, taking the stress out of the situation and ultimately delivered what you would want from such a service. I fully appreciate everything they have done, and if I am ever in need of such services in the future, they will be the first number I contact. Excellent.

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Chris Hadrill was a great help both in terms of his advice and his expertise. He explained my options to me clearly and concisely enabling me to quickly make the right decision for me in the circumstance. I would not hesitate to recommend Chris or Redmans to friends or colleagues, and would certainly make Redmans my first port of call should I require a similar service in the future.

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