Appeal court rejects case against Sunday working

A devout Christian who lost his job after refusing to work on Sundays has lost the latest round of his legal battle with his former employer.

Stephen Copsey, who was asked to take on Sunday-working as part of a new shift pattern, could not claim unfair dismissal, three senior judges have ruled.

The decision followed defeats for Copsey in an employment tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal. The Court of Appeal also refused him leave to appeal to the House of Lords.

Copsey’s barrister Paul Diamond said the decision meant the fourth commandment would have to be rewritten to say: “The Seventh Day is the Sabbath of the Lord Thy God. Thou shalt not work unless thy employer requires thee to work.”

Copsey had worked for Devon Clays as a quarry worker for 14 years. In 2000 and then 2002, it won a new order and changed the shift patterns to include some Sundays.

For two years Copsey avoided Sundays and took lower pay. But eventually the company required a seven-day work pattern to which he objected. He was warned about dismissal and after efforts to find a compromise failed, he was dismissed in July 2002.

An employment tribunal found Copsey had been dismissed because he refused to accept a change to the seven-day shift pattern. It also held that his sacking was not connected with his religious beliefs.

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