Saturday, June 25 2016

EHRC proposes ‘reasonable accommodation’ for religion or belief

 The Daily Mail today reports on the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s application to intervene in cases before the European Court brought by Christians seeking right of redress against religious discrimination in the workplace.

The Commission will seek “reasonable accommodation” for religious beliefs, on par with disability rights, if given leave to intervene in the cases.

The Commission said in a statement:

“If given leave to intervene, the Commission will argue that the way existing human rights and equality law has been interpreted by judges is insufficient to protect freedom of religion or belief.

“It will say that the courts have set the bar too high for someone to prove that they have been discriminated against because of their religion or belief; and that it is possible to accommodate expression of religion alongside the rights of people who are not religious and the needs of businesses.

“The Commission is concerned that rulings already made by UK and European courts have created a body of confusing and contradictory case law. For example, some Christians wanting to display religious symbols in the workplace have lost their legal claim so are not allowed to wear a cross, while others have been allowed to after reaching a compromise with their employer.

“As a result, it is difficult for employers or service providers to know what they should be doing to protect people from religion or belief based discrimination. They may be being overly cautious in some cases and so are unnecessarily restricting people’s rights. It is also difficult for employees who have no choice but to abide by their employers decision.

“The Commission thinks there is a need for clearer legal principles to help the courts consider what is and what is not justifiable in religion or belief cases, which will help to resolve differences without resorting to legal action. The Commission will propose the idea of ‘reasonable accommodations’ that will help employers and others manage how they allow people to manifest their religion or belief.”

The intervention in support of “reasonable accommodation” of religion or belief will be widely welcomed by British Muslims who, according to the EHRC report on Religious Discrimination in Britain, have reported “a consistently higher level of unfair treatment...than most other religious groups.”

The Daily Mail editorial yesterday argued:

“We remind ministers that successive governments have passed law upon law protecting every conceivable minority group from discrimination.

“It’s high time they finally stood up for Christian values, too.”

It’s worth reminding the DM leader writer that faith communities in the UK are not treated equally under the law with Race Relations and Incitement to Religious Hatred legislation protecting some faith groups, like Jews and Sikhs, more robustly than others, such as Muslims.

It is high time the law did accord a “reasonable accommodation” for religion and belief for members of all faith communities in the UK.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 July 2011 16:42

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