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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Saturday, May 01, 2010

British employment law case on religious discrimination

Full (rather concise) judgment here.


Friend of Icelos said...

It seems a clear and reasonable opinion by Lord Justice Laws. I've bookmarked it for future reference, especially for points 22–25.

Regarding the quotation at point 12 which states, "Ms Ladele's objection was based on her view of marriage, which was not a core part of her religion," I wonder ... who gets to decide what is and is not a core part of a religion, and why should such a qualification of beliefs even matter?

Zachary Voch said...

(under 23)

" But the conferment of any legal protection or preference upon a particular substantive moral position on the ground only that it is espoused by the adherents of a particular faith, however long its tradition, however rich its culture, is deeply unprincipled. It imposes compulsory law, not to advance the general good on objective grounds, but to give effect to the force of subjective opinion. This must be so, since in the eye of everyone save the believer religious faith is necessarily subjective, being incommunicable by any kind of proof or evidence. It may of course be true; but the ascertainment of such a truth lies beyond the means by which laws are made in a reasonable society. Therefore it lies only in the heart of the believer, who is alone bound by it. No one else is or can be so bound, unless by his own free choice he accepts its claims."

Quotable, as is (24):

"The promulgation of law for the protection of a position held purely on religious grounds cannot therefore be justified. It is irrational, as preferring the subjective over the objective. But it is also divisive, capricious and arbitrary. We do not live in a society where all the people share uniform religious beliefs. The precepts of any one religion – any belief system – cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other. If they did, those out in the cold would be less than citizens; and our constitution would be on the way to a theocracy, which is of necessity autocratic. The law of a theocracy is dictated without option to the people, not made by their judges and governments. The individual conscience is free to accept such dictated law; but the State, if its people are to be free, has the burdensome duty of thinking for itself."

Does anybody know of any similar suits where a Muslim employee claims wrongful termination after refusal to handle alcohol? I've heard of accommodations being made by some employers, but I'm not sure if any are known to have terminated an employee on these grounds.

Shatterface said...

We had a Muslim woman who won £4,000 from an employer who thought employing someone who covered her hair sent out the wrong message:


Shatterface said...

On the other hand Mohamed Ahmed lost his case when he refused to handle alcohol - even with a forklift truck: