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Welcome back to our third edition of our refreshed ‘Need To Know’ employment and HR newsletter. Below are some of our key articles:
- Covering New Territory: the Employment Tribunal Considers a Face Mask-Related Dismissal
- COVID-19 pandemic: has it turned back the clock on gender equality?
- Even more changes to the furlough scheme announced!
- In Page v Lord Chancellor, a Christian lay magistrate opposed an adoption application made by a same-sex couple, on the basis of his personal opinion that it was in the best interests for the child to be raised by a mother and a father. The Claimant brought a claim for religious discrimination against the Lord Chancellor when he was subsequently removed from the bench. The Court of Appeal rejected the claim, holding that the Claimant was not removed because of his religion, but because of his refusal to carry out his judicial responsibilities in a non-biased manner and in accordance with the law. As well as being removed from the bench, the Claimant, who was also a non-executive director of an NHS and social care trust, was disciplined by the NHS Trust for comments made during a media interview relating to this same matter in which he, without prior notice to the NHS Trust, expressed his views on homosexuality and same-sex adoption. In Page v NHS Trust Development Authority, the Claimant brought claims for religious discrimination and victimisation against the NHS Trust. In similar reasoning to the Court of Appeal in Page v Lord Chancellor, the Court of Appeal rejected the claims. It held that the Claimant was not disciplined because he was a Christian or he held a belief that it was in the best interests of children to be raised by a mother and a father, but because he made those comments in the national media without informing the NHS Trust. With regards to the Claimant’s Article 9 rights under the ECHR, the Court held that any interference with those rights was justified.
- In Northbay Pelagic Limited v Anderson, Mr Anderson was dismissed for five instances of gross misconduct. One of the instances of misconduct was that he had installed surveillance cameras in his office to protect personal confidential information that he had on his personal computer. The ET initially allowed Mr Anderson’s claim for unfair dismissal, which the employer appealed. On appeal, the EAT remitted the claim back to the ET to consider whether it was fair to dismiss Mr Anderson on one of the five grounds. In relation to the surveillance camera however, the EAT held that the dismissal on this basis was outside the band of reasonable responses. The EAT noted that the employer had failed to balance the right to privacy with Mr Anderson’s desire to protect his confidential information. The employer failed to attach any weight to the fact that the camera was in a room to which Mr Anderson, as a rule, had exclusive access, and no one had in fact been captured on camera.