Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

In the case of Kuteh v Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust [2019] EWCA Civ 818, a case which Redmans previously reported on when it first reached the Employment Tribunal (link to our summary of the decision can be found here),  the Court of Appeal upheld the EAT and the Employment Tribunal’s decision that a nurse was fairly dismissed on allegations that she had engaged in inappropriate discussions with patients regarding religion.

Background facts

Ms Kuteh, a committed Christian, worked for the trust as a nurse. Following a medication error, she received a final formal warning to remain on her file for 24 months and was transferred to work in a pre-operative assessment role. Part of this role involved completing a pro forma document which, among other things, asked the patient’s religion.

Patients began complaining that Ms Kuteh raised religious matters with them that went far beyond just asking what religion they observed (one instance involved telling a patient about to undergo surgery for bowel cancer that he’d have a better chance of survival if he prayed). She was instructed not to do this and agreed to comply. However, she didn’t and, following another two incidents, she was subject to a disciplinary process and summarily dismissed.

She brought an unfair dismissal claim (she made no religious discrimination claim), reliant on the protections under article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights (right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion). The tribunal found her dismissal fair and the EAT refused permission to appeal. She appealed that refusal.

Court of Appeal decision

Her appeal was dismissed.

Whilst the court recognised that proselytism is protected, it noted the protection didn’t extend to improper proselytism.

The court emphasised that it was ‘important that cases such as this should not become over-elaborate or excessively complicated’. The case was a claim for unfair dismissal pure and simple. The essence of the case was as follows:

  • Ms Kuteh accepted that on at least some occasions she initiated conversations with patients about religion.
  • She had assured her employer that she would stop doing so.
  • Despite that assurance, given in response to a lawful management instruction, she continued to do so.
  • Her employer conducted a fair procedure, by way of investigation, at the disciplinary hearing and at the subsequent appeal.
  • The decision to dismiss Ms Kuteh for misconduct was one which the tribunal concluded fell within the band of reasonable responses open to the employer.

Even having regard to the importance of the right to freedom of religion, it was, said the Court of Appeal, plainly open to the tribunal to conclude that this dismissal had not been unfair.

Our lawyers’ comments on this case

This is a reminder to employers that if an employee is conducting themselves in a way that is considered to be inappropriate, tackling it head on in line with internal policies will generally mean that any dismissal will be fair. That said, the case also shows that employers should be aware of employees expressing personal opinions on their religious or philosophical beliefs in the workplace. Religion or philosophical belief is a protected characteristic under discrimination law (but was not pleaded in this case) and so employers should be wary when investigating expressions of that religion or belief by the employee. 

 

About

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 Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

    Your first name (required)

    Your last name (required)

    Your email (required)

    Your telephone number (required)

    Brief details of your enquiry

    Contact us

    Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

    T: 020 3397 3603
    E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
    W: www.redmans.co.uk

    Testimonials

    4.78 Average

    261 Reviews

    Karen T

    Great service. Thank you.

    Posted 1 day ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service from Chris & Mel Chin. The best outcome was achieved from the redundancy process. They were extremely thorough, listened carefully and acted swiftly on my behalf. I highly recommend Redmans Solicitors

    Posted 2 days ago

    Shanine M

    Excellent service, thank you so much!

    Posted 3 days ago

    Anonymous

    I found Caroline and Chris very Helpful and provided excellent service. Caroline especially provided great legal advice and made me feel at ease with the whole process. I would highly recommend them. Thank you!

    Posted 3 days ago

    Gayle B

    Excellent company very professional would definitely recommend

    Posted 5 days ago

    Alex K

    Redmans provided an excellent service, timely and effective. Will definitely recommend.

    Posted 5 days ago

    Anonymous

    Great job done on my employment law

    Posted 5 days ago

    Dominica S

    Caroline & Chris were very prompt and efficient.Very happy with the service and will definitely recommend Redmans Solicitor to everyone !

    Posted 6 days ago

    Sandra K

    If you are looking for a group of solicitors who are Professional, Caring and on point, then look no futher than Redmans. I was literally hand held through out my case. Can not find fault with this company, very happy with the result and the service i received. Would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 6 days ago

    Anonymous

    I found dealing with Redmans a pleasure. I got to speak to someone quickly, the advice was profferred promplty and the service was not 'pushy'. In addition, the administration was excellent. What more could you ask for?

    Posted 6 days ago

    ALISDAIR L

    Redmans did a brilliant job regarding my redundancy agreement. I miss read an extra charge which wasnt the case so doing a new review to clarify. I would recommend Redmans for any employment law issues you may have.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Christos G

    Great legal advice and quick correspondence. Very supportive and helpful through the entire process. Thank you Redmans!

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    Chris Hadrill advised me on a redundancy settlement agreement. He was very responsive, easy to deal with and gave me good advice at a stressful time.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Zara M

    Rana at Redmans gave me support and confidence I needed to ensure a wrong, was put right. I couldn’t recommend enough.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Stuart T

    Chris provided an excellent service, he was efficient and friendly and I had no doubt when recommending him to my colleagues

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service, prompt responses. Chris Hadrill provided excellent and efficient service.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Jane M

    Wonderful solicitors who really listen to you and who are there to offer expert legal advice but they also have a personal touch and you really feel supported both from a legal aspect but also from a personal aspect. They really listen .

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    They dealt with my case professional and swiftly. The advise was helpful and enabled me to make the right decisions in my case.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    I have received a great legal advice from Redmans on a very short notice. I’d highly recommend them.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Michael D

    Excellent, efficient advice - the whole matter was concluded with minimum fuss and an excellent outcome.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Michael Q

    I found Redmans via the internet. I was looking for a solicitor with employment law experience and they fitted the bill. I was very pleased with the advice/service that I received leading to a good outcome for me.

    Posted 2 weeks ago