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Dismissal over homophobic email not religious discrimination

Dismissal over homophobic email not religious


In Haye v London
Borough of Lewisham, an employment tribunal rejected an employee’s religious
discrimination claim after she was dismissed for sending a homophobic email.
The reason for the dismissal was not because of her Christian beliefs, but
because of a breach of the employer’s email policy.

Mrs Haye is a
Christian. She argues that as the Bible states that homosexuality is a sin,
then as a Christian she is under a duty to ‘speak out’ about homosexual
behaviour. While Mrs Haye was ‘surfing’ the internet she discovered a website
for the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) who challenge homophobia in
Christianity. Using her work email account, she sent LGCM an email condemning
them as sinful, stating, among many other offensive remarks, that “this type of
sexuality is not normal”. LGCM complained and Mrs Haye was dismissed for using
the Council’s email system to state “homophobic views”, breaching the
Council’s equal opportunities policy and email policy, both of which prohibit
offensive conduct, and bringing the Council into disrepute.

A tribunal rejected Mrs
Haye’s religious discrimination claim. Her dismissal was not due to her
religious views. The reason was that Mrs Haye had misused the Council’s email
facilities by sending a highly offensive, homophobic email to LGCM, which
breached the Council’s equal opportunities and email policies. In any event,
any non-Christian employee sending similarly offensive emails would have been
treated in exactly the same way.


September 2010

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