A worker has won the first victory in a case of religious discrimination under new legislation that came into effect in December 2003.
A Leeds tribunal has ruled in favour of T&G member Mohammed Sajwal Khan, who was sacked after he took extended leave to make a once-in-a-lifetime religious pilgrimage to Mecca.
Khan had worked for NIC Hygiene as a bus cleaner for more than seven years when he decided to make the pilgrimage, and applied to use all his annual leave allowance.
When he did not get a response, the T&G advised him to submit a written request.
As Khan still did not receive a response, his manager said he could assume the leave had been granted. However on his return to the UK from the six-week trip, Khan was suspended without pay and later sacked.
The tribunal found in Khan’s favour and awarded him £10,000 in compensation, however he is unlikely to receive the full sum due to the company’s financial problems.
Phil Bown, T&G regional industrial organiser, who represented Khan said: “This case should serve as a warning to other employers who ignore or flout new anti-discrimination laws.
“Islam requires those Muslims who can make the pilgrimage to Mecca to do so once in their lives and we warned the employers that they risked losing a discrimination case.”