The Equality and Human Rights Commission has announced that it will be working with employers and religious groups to help them interpret the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling on the recent cases involving religious freedom in the workplace (see our Case Alert on Eweida and Others sent out on 15 January). The Court found that in two separate cases which involved an employer preventing a cross being worn at work, Nadia Eweida suffered a breach of her right to religious freedom under Article 9, but Shirley Chaplin, did not because in her case, the Court ruled that health and safety considerations meant that the UK court reached the right conclusion in supporting her employer’s actions. The Commission believes there is potential for confusion for both employers and employees following the ruling. This is in particular due to the fact that the Court found that Eweida had suffered discrimination but that Chaplin had not [because the Court disagreed with the UK’s appellate court’s ruling in the proportionality test for objective discrimination in indirect discrimination – the balance test – that the benefits to the business outweighed the discriminatory effect on the individual]. The Commission will therefore be publishing new guidance on this issue for employers and employees, to help them avoid further confusion and potentially costly litigation.
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