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Religion / Belief

Religion / Belief

SKU: 7.27
  • Advice

    What is Religion or Belief Discrimination?

    The law protects employees from discrimination based on their religion or beliefs. Here, the law divides into two general categories, religion/religious belief, and philosophical belief.


    What counts as a religion?

    The law generally accepts that a religion must have a clear system of beliefs. Denomination and sects are also covered as long as they are clearly structured. Both employees without a specific faith and those who belong to established religions are protected by the law. What constitutes a religion or religious belief may vary from person to person and between groups. All religions enjoy equal protection.


    What counts as a philosophical belief?

    Generally, for a philosophical belief to qualify as such in the eyes of the law, it must have the following characteristics:

    • Honestly held;
    • More than merely an opinion based on current news;
    • Pertains to a significant aspect of human life or behaviour;
    • Clear, logical, serious, significant; and be
    • Worthy of respect in a democratic society (and not conflict with fundamental human rights).


    Some examples would include humanism, atheism and agnosticism.

    Political beliefs form a more uncertain topic. Supporting a political party does not generally qualify as holding a philosophical belief under the Equality Act. However, the Employment Rights Act protects you from dismissal based solely on or mainly on grounds of your political opinions.


    Religion and belief discrimination will include: -

    • Direct Discrimination;
    • Indirect Discrimination;
    • Harassment; or
    • Victimisation


    Direct Discrimination

    This can manifest where you are treated less favourably because of your religion (or someone you are associated with) or beliefs, (or lack thereof), regardless of whether their perception is correct or not. Common examples may include a decision not to employ or to dismiss someone, offer poorer terms and conditions of employment, or deny contractual benefits because of religion or beliefs. The law permits discrimination based on religion or belief in a select few circumstances where a job requires an employee of a specific religion or belief.


    Indirect Discrimination

    To file a claim under this you must be able to prove that the policy leading to unfair treatment represents a disproportionate and unnecessary way of your employer achieving an intended outcome, such as a wholly Muslim workforce - this can be extremely difficult and not taken without legal advice.



    The law defines harassment as “unwanted conduct” which, in this case, must be related to religion or belief. For an act to qualify as harassment, it must also have the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual. Harassment most typically takes the form of bullying, nicknames, threats, jokes, gossip, inappropriate questions, insults or exclusion. Notably, you can also raise a complaint where you witness harassment and it has a negative impact on you or your working environment.



    Victimisation is when an employee is singled out for cruel and/or unjust treatment because they; -

    • Made an allegation of discrimination;
    • Supported a complaint of discrimination;
    • Gave evidence relating to a complaint of discrimination;
    • Raised a concern over equality or discrimination; and/or
    • Did anything else that breaches the Equality Act, including bringing an employment tribunal claim.


    Notably, victimisation can impact people who stood up for their colleagues and who suffered a detriment as a result, such as being labelled a troublemaker, being left out, or being denied training or promotion. As long as you bring an allegation for victimization in good faith, you will not face any negative consequences if your evidence turns out to be inaccurate or incomplete.


    If you believe you are being discriminated against due to your religion or beliefs

    You should try to resolve the issue informally by talking to your manager. If that does not lead to progress, you should raise a formal complaint with your employer’s HR department. As part of this, it may be helpful to familiarise yourself with your employer’s grievance policy and procedure, which your manager or HR department should pass on to you if you ask


    How we can help

    We would be delighted to act on your behalf to negotiate whether there has, in our experts opinion, been any discrimination made against you or your employment application, To gain our assistance you need to open a case, this is done by taking advantage of our free consultation service, activated by the link at the top of the page, should you wish to start a case the caseworker will send you the suitable payment link.


    Please note your caseworker can only give generic advice, their role is to prepare your details for handling by our legal team and to act as your point of contact, they will also issue you with your Password and PIN, these will be needed to log onto your client dashboard. From your dashboard you will be able to manage and view every aspect of your case, upload documents, images, files etc.


    Your legal team will carefully examine the employers policies/procedures on the matter and if there is an identified issue, we would seek to assist you in bringing about a fair solution by mediating between yourself and your employer. If a solution cannot be found then we would support you in lodging a claim via an employment tribunal. You should be conscious of the strict time constraints as discrimination claims must be brought to an Employment Tribunal within three months of the alleged discriminatory act. We do tend to find that employers tend to be significantly more responsive when you have taken steps to obtain professional legal advice.

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