Some encouraging news from Irish Republic
A Christian, who was sacked by South Tipperary County Council for speaking about Jesus and sharing the Gospel with others during working hours, has won his religious discrimination case.
In April 2008, John McAteer, a civil engineer, was informed by the council’s human resources officer that a complaint had been received that he had spoken about his faith in the office. He was told that he was not permitted to share the Gospel with colleagues and members of the public during work hours, including during his lunch break.
In June 2008, he was required to attend a disciplinary meeting about a number of instances where he had spoken about his beliefs with members of the public during office hours. He was warned that if he continued to share his faith with people during normal working hours, he would be sacked.
In June 2010, he was dismissed after management heard that he had shared the Gospel with a man working as a contractor at the council offices.
The Equality Officer, Marian Dufy found that the ban imposed on Mr McAteer on sharing his faith between 9am and 5pm impacted disproportionately on those of the Christian faith, noting that European charters on human rights and freedoms protect the right of to manifest religious beliefs in the workplace.
She concluded that an award of €70,000 would be appropriate since Mr McAteer, whose salary had been €54,000, has only succeeded in finding part-time work since his dismissal.
Welcoming the result, Andrea Williams, CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, said:
“Over the past decade the Christian Legal Centre has supported Christians who have found themselves in trouble at work for speaking about Jesus Christ. We welcome this result and hope that employers will think twice before instigating disciplinary action in these kinds of situations. We are hoping we will see more judgments like this Irish one in the UK.”