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Dismissal for refusing to stop using Christian references was not discriminatory

In Drew v Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, Drew (D) is a practising Christian. He worked as a paediatric consultant in a multicultural and multi-faith department. Problems within the department arose because D habitually used Christian references in his professional communications. As a result of two investigations, recommendations were made that he should keep his personal views and religious beliefs to himself, should not impose them on others and refrain from any religious references in his professional communications. D did not accept the recommendations, and was dismissed for his continued refusal to comply with a reasonable request. The EAT agreed with the tribunal that his direct discrimination should be dismissed.

  • Firstly, the reason for D’s dismissal was not that he had used Christian references in his dealings with others and therefore was not because of a religious belief. The reason was his misconduct, i.e. his repeated refusal to accept a reasonable recommendation that he should not refer to Christian theology, which had potentially harmful consequences for the department.
  • Secondly, in any event, a hypothetical comparator would have been treated in the same way, with the comparator being a consultant paediatrician, whether of a different faith (e.g. a Muslim or a Hindu) or no faith at all (an atheist), who circulated emails and adopted a communication style using holy or belief-based text references, about which others complained, as it caused unease.

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