Mohammed Khan v NIC Hygiene
Discrimination on religious grounds
Regulations protecting employees from discrimination on religious grounds were introduced in December 2003, and a tribunal in Leeds has just delivered a landmark ruling in the first successful case under the regulations.
Khan was dismissed after taking six weeks off work to undertake the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca - a trip Muslims are required to complete under the five pillars of Islam, if they are able to do so. The employers said Khan's leave was unauthorised and dismissed him for misconduct.
The tribunal ruled that Khan was unfairly dismissed and discriminated against on religious grounds.
A refusal to permit an employee to take time off work for religious reasons may be discriminatory even if the refusal is made in accordance with normal procedures.
What you should do
- Consider all requests for leave on grounds of religion or belief carefully and sympathetically. You will need to be able to justify a refusal to take such leave on business grounds
- If you operate a holiday system whereby the organisation closes for specific periods when all staff must take their annual leave, you should consider whether such closures are justified as they may prevent individuals taking leave at times of specific religious significance to them
- Review other policies and procedures and ensure you can justify any rules that potentially discriminate on grounds of religion or belief.
Villalba v Merrill Lynch & Co Inc
Sex discrimination, equal pay and unfair dismissal
Senior banker Stephanie Villalba recently lost her high-profile sex discrimination and equal pay claim for £7.5m. Although she succeeded in her unfair dismissal claim and in part of her victimisation claim, given the cap on the compensatory award and the likely level of award for victimisation, this will not be much consolation for Villalba.
The tribunal accepted that Merrill Lynch had performance concerns with Villalba and found that it would not have treated a man with such performance issues more favourably. Her sex discrimination claim therefore failed. The tribunal also accepted Merrill's justification for any differences in pay between Villalba and her male colleagues. However, the tribunal did hold that Merrill Lynch knew or suspected that Vill