Christian bus driver refuses to drive buses displaying atheist slogan

A bus company is attempting to accommodate the religious views of an employee who refused to drive vehicles displaying atheist advertising.

A Christian bus driver Ron Heather, from Southampton, Hampshire, has refused to drive a bus with an atheist slogan proclaiming “There’s probably no God”. He responded with “shock” and “horror” at the message and walked out of his shift on Saturday in protest.

His employer, First Bus, said it would do everything in its power to ensure Heather does not have to drive the buses.

When he returned to work last Monday, he was called into a meeting with managers and agreed to go back to work with the promise he would only have to drive the buses if there were no others available.

Audrey Williams, head of discrimination law at Eversheds, said: “The employer has been pragmatic and accommodating in its approach.”

She said that if the request had been very difficult to accommodate, the employer would have been within its rights to turn it down. The law applied to people being actively discriminated against, rather than having religious views positively accommodated, she said.

Buses across the UK started displaying atheist messages in an advertising campaign launched earlier this month. The advertising campaign is backed by the British Humanist Association and prominent atheist, professor Richard Dawkins.

In January, Christian registrar Lillian Ladele’s lawyer has asked permission to appeal a recent ruling by an Employment Appeal Tribunal that her employer, Islington Council, did not discriminate against her on religious grounds after she refused to officiate at gay partnership ceremonies.

Last year, Muslim fork-lift truck driver who sued Tesco for religious discrimination because he was asked to handle alcoholic drinks as part of his job at the company’s Lichfield goods depot has lost his case, it has emerged.

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