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 & Gravesham NHS Trust ET/2302764/2016 the Employment Tribunal held that a nurse was fairly dismissed on allegations that she had engaged in inappropriate discussions with patients regarding religion.

The background facts in Kuteh v Dartford & Gravesham NHS Trust

Ms Kuteh, who is a committed, Christian, commenced her employment with the Trust as a registered nurse on 1 April 2017 and was promoted to the position of ‘Sister’ in 2012. In November 2015 she was transferred to a pre-assessment role which involved carrying out between six and twelve pre-assessment checks on patients who were due to undergo surgery. A standard checklist was used to carry out these checks, and this form included questions on the religion of the patient.

In March and April 2016 Ms Kuteh’s manager, Ms Putland, was informed that patients had complained to staff in the department that Ms Kuteh had been raising issues of religion and faith with them when going through the pre-assessment checks. In total, five patients complained in March and April 2016, and their complaints included that Ms Kuteh had “preached” to them and that one patient had been informed that if he prayed to God he would have a better chance of survival from surgery for cancer. Ms Putland informed the matron, Ms Gill, and on 11 April 2016 Ms Gill told Ms Kuteh that discussions with patients regarding their religion were inappropriate and should not take place in the future. Ms Kuteh assured Ms Gill that she would not discuss religion further with patients. However, two further complaints of a similar nature were made by patients in May 2016. Ms Gill was informed of these complaints and a disciplinary investigation meeting was arranged to take place. In the meantime, a further complaint was made by a patient on 20 June 2016 that Ms Kuteh had discussed religion with him.

On 30 June 2016 a meeting took place between the appointed investigator, Ms Shepherd, and Ms Kuteh. In that meeting Ms Kuteh accepted that she was aware that she had been instructed not to discuss religion with patients but that she felt that such an instruction was unreasonable, but she accepted that she could see how some patients may find discussions regarding religion to be inappropriate and admitted failing to follow reasonable management instructions. In her report Ms Shepherd recommended that the matter be progressed to a disciplinary hearing.

A disciplinary hearing took place in August 2016 and, by way of a letter dated 18 August 2016, Ms Kuteh was dismissed for failing to follow Ms Gill’s reasonable management instruction in April 2016, inappropriate conduct in discussing the topic of religion with patients, and breaching the nursing and midwifery code in expressing her personal beliefs to people in an inappropriate way. Ms Kuteh appealed that decision, with one of the grounds of appeal having been that she had not been given copies of the notes of the evidence of the patients who had complained. Ms Kuteh was not given permission to  but her appeal was dismissed.

Ms Kuteh brought a claim to the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal and, further, for a finding that her human rights had been breached (namely the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights).

The Employment Tribunal’s decision

The Employment Tribunal found that Ms Kuteh’s dismissal had been fair, as there had been a fair investigation into serious allegations and that there had been a fair hearing. The Tribunal also found that there was no necessity for Ms Shepherd to have interviewed, for the purposes of the disciplinary hearing, the patients who had complained and that there was no obligation for Ms Kuteh to have been provided with copies of the patients’ complaints. The Tribunal also found that the dismissing officer held an honest belief on reasonable grounds that Ms Kueth was guilty of the charges, and that the dismissal was therefore in the range of reasonable responses.

Our lawyers’ comments on the case

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “This case shows that employees should be careful when expressing personal opinions relating to religious or philosophical beliefs in the workplace – in some circumstances such personal opinions may be protected under discrimination legislation but, in other circumstances, as in this case, such expressions of personal opinion may lead to dismissal.”

The judgment of the Employment Tribunal in the case of Kuteh v Dartford & Gravesham NHS Trust can be found here.

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

    4.77 Average

    212 Reviews

    Ellen S

    Excellent, professional, timely. Friendly when I needed it most. Would recommend to anyone.

    Posted 1 hour ago

    Ellen S

    Excellent, professional, timely. Friendly when I needed it most. Would recommend to anyone.

    Posted 1 hour ago

    Cristina G

    Very professional and reliable. Timely answers, clear and to the point. Always looking for the best for their customers.

    Posted 1 day ago

    Rob T

    Very professional and on target - highly recommended.

    Posted 4 days ago

    Anonymous

    Very efficient service and knowledgeable solicitors.

    Posted 4 days ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent response time from first contact. Quick and easy completion of documents required. Fast response to any queries I made.

    Posted 4 days ago

    Anonymous

    Redmans Solicitors did a great job and were very professional at all times. Would definitely recommend.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Gary P

    All good advice, prompt and efficient

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent advice and customer service.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Aneet G

    I would definitely recommend Redmans. Very impressed with service provided. They were extremely proactive in handling my case which made things easier for me. Provided sound advice and resolution. Special credit for this goes to Chris who dealt with my case with great determination and consideration.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Fern M

    Very efficient and friendly

    Posted 3 months ago

    Neville S

    A professional and friendly service, which I would highly recommend.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Daniel T

    Extremely helpful and made a bad situation much more manageable. Where other solicitors seemed disinterested in my situation Redmans immediately made me feel like it was a team effort to achieve a more favourable outcome

    Posted 3 months ago

    Paul T

    Excellent, quick and informative. Chris was a real star and gave me confidence during the uncertainty if a redundancy settlement.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Marina E

    Felt in very capable hands was listened to and given excellent advice. Would not hesitate to recomend and use again if needed.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Rosa B

    Fabulous service all round.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Anonymous

    Redmans were quick to respond to my enquiry and dealt with my case professionally and personably. I received sound advice and was put at ease by Chris Hadrill, Partner.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Alkhas K

    Excellent service.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Mathias G

    Contacted them regarding my end of employment agreement. Chris Hadrill dealt with it and was done and handed back to employer same day more than happy with there service.

    Posted 4 months ago

    Mark W

    Most professional from start to finish offering very a personal service. Most impressive and quick when dealing with the matters in hand.

    Posted 5 months ago

    Anonymous

    Posted 5 months ago