Religious Discrimination

For the majority of people, their religion or belief system is of great importance to them. As such, it is vital to ensure that they are not discriminated against on this basis.

In respect of religious or belief-based discrimination, this can encompass any religious or philosophical belief, as well as a lack of any such belief.

As with other forms of discrimination, religious or belief-based discrimination can take four forms: direct religious/belief-based discrimination, indirect religious/belief-based discrimination, victimisation and harassment.

Direct religious/belief-based discrimination takes place when:

  • An employer treats an employee less favourably;
  • The less favourable treatment is due to the employee’s religion, belief, or lack of religion or belief, and someone of a different religion or belief is or would be treated more favourably; and
  • The treatment has led to a direct disadvantage.

Examples of direct religious and belief-based discrimination would be an employer paying an employee a lesser bonus than others on the basis of their religion, or failing to promote an employee solely due to their religion.

Indirect religious/belief-based discrimination occurs when an employee is placed at a disadvantage due to a provision, criteria or practice which applies to everyone, but places the individual (and people of the religion or belief system to which they belong) at a disadvantage). An example of indirect religious/belief based discrimination would be requiring people of the Muslim faith to work on religious holidays, such as Eid, unless this was really necessary for the particular role.

As with other forms of discrimination, victimisation occurs when an employee is treated unfavourably simply because they have chosen to bring a claim of religious/belief-based discrimination, have made a complaint, or have acted as a witness for someone who had made such a complaint.

It is also against the law to subject an employee to unwanted and unwarranted conduct related to religion or belief which could reasonably be considered to cause that employee offence. This constitutes harassment.