In the combined cases of Page v Lord Chancellor and Page v NHS Trust Development Authority 0304/180183/18 the Employment Appeal Tribunal has decided that a magistrate who was removed from office after he publicly expressed his faith-based objection to the adoption of children by same-sex couples was not unlawfully victimised. His removal from office was a response to concern that he was prepared to flout his judicial oath of impartiality and thereby bring the judiciary into disrepute, which was separate to any protected act that he may have done in expressing his beliefs.
The EAT also decided that the non-renewal of the magistrate’s term as non-executive director of an NHS Trust did not amount to victimisation, being a response to the manner in which he expressed his beliefs in the press and on national television rather than to the beliefs themselves.
The Equality Act 2010 recognises different forms of discrimination in employment related to an employee’s (or office holder’s) religion or belief. Under S.13, direct discrimination occurs where, because of religion or belief, the employer treats an employee less favourably than it treats or would treat others. Under S.19, indirect discrimination occurs where the employer applies a provision, criterion or practice (PCP) to an employee of a particular religion or belief, which it applies equally to others who do not share that religion or belief, but which puts or would put persons of the employee’s religion or belief at a particular disadvantage when compared with others (unless objectively justified). And, under S.27, victimisation occurs where an employer subjects an employee to a detriment because the employee has done a ‘protected act’ or because the employer believes that the employee has done or may do so. For this purpose, a protected act includes the employee making an allegation (whether or not express) that the employer or another person has contravened the Act (S.27(2)(d)). The EqA also makes provision for harassment related to religion or belief under S.26.
A fairly straight forward case on its facts, however, there may be circumstances where the decision is more complicated, for example, if the individual had disclosed their views in private but they had been subsequently made public.