A doctor has lost his unfair dismissal claim after he was sacked for emailing a prayer to his colleagues.
An Employment Tribunal heard that the Christian doctor was made to feel like a ‘religious maniac’ when he sent the prayer to his co-workers in an attempt to motivate his department. He sent other emails containing other quotes from the bible and various poems.
He wanted to offer inspiration in his ‘frail and imperfect efforts’ to serve his patients and the department.
Bizarre and inappropriate?
However one colleague said they found the emails ‘strange’ while another said it was ‘bizarre and inappropriate’. He was criticised by a colleague for sending a text message that said ‘Have a peaceful Christmas’. The colleague described it as an ‘aggressive and unwelcome intrusion’ into his personal time.
He would also occasionally use the phrase ‘I’m a Christian therefore…’ before offering an opinion.
An independent review stated that his behaviour had been found to be inappropriate for a professional environment. His bosses told him to keep his religious beliefs to himself.
He ignored his bosses and carried on as normal. He was sacked for gross misconduct and insubordination.
Unfair dismissal claim
The doctor brought a claim for unfair dismissal. However the judge rejected the claim. He said that if a Muslim or Hindu doctor had acted in a similar way, and sent quotes from their religious texts to colleagues, they would also have been told not to do so again.
An atheist consultant would also be treated the same way if they quoted texts by Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens to their colleagues.
The judge told him that there was no need to state that he was a Christian before making a point. However he has support from the Christian Legal Centre (CLC).
CLC Director, Andrea Williams said: This is like the shutting down of identity. This approach to Christians is like forcing them to deny their identity – being Christian isn’t something which you take off when you go to work.
“To say that it is not appropriate to say that you are a Christian at work is to totally misunderstand our history, our heritage, freedom under the law, freedom of religion, it is deeply illiberal, it is wrong.”
However, the National Secular Society said the claims of religious discrimination were unfounded. A spokesman said: “Yet again we find that when claims of discrimination against Christians in the workplace are properly scrutinised, they fall flat on their face.”
The doctor’s lawyers are considering whether to make an appeal.