The case of potential religious discrimination: Cherfi vs G4S Security Services

legal_updates

This case demonstrated that employers can put the operational needs of the business first.

Author: Dennis Chapman
Published:
Reading time: 2 minutes

This article is 10 years old.

Read our disclaimer keyboard_arrow_down

This website content is intended as a general guide to law as it applies to the motor trade. Lawgistics has taken every effort to ensure that the contents are as accurate and up to date as at the date of first publication.

The laws and opinions expressed within this website may be varied as the law develops. As such we cannot accept liability for or the consequence of, any change of law, or official guidelines since publication or any misuse of the information provided.

The opinions in this website are based upon the experience of the authors and it must be recognised that only the courts and recognised tribunals can interpret the law with authority.

Examples given within the website are based on the experience of the authors and centre upon issues that commonly give rise to disputes. Each situation in practice will be different and may comprise several points commented upon.

If you have any doubt about the correct legal position you should seek further legal advice from Lawgistics or a suitably qualified solicitor. We cannot accept liability for your failure to take professional advice where it should reasonably be sought by a prudent person.

All characters are fictitious and should not be taken as referring to any person living or dead.

Use of this website shall be considered acceptance of the terms of the disclaimer presented above.

This case discusses employers justifications when looking to refuse an employee’s request for a certain working pattern.

Mr Cherfi, a Muslim security guard, left work every Friday lunch time to attend prayers at his local mosque. This was allowed by his supervisor from 2003 to 2007, until Mr Cherfi was transferred to a new site.

The new site was a new client of G4S’s whom came with a contract that, while on shift, all security staff must remain on site. Therefore Mr Cherfi would not be able to continue to leave the premises every Friday to attend mosque. There was a prayer room on site which G4S were happy for Mr Cherfi to use during his shift. Further G4S proposed a change in his working pattern so that he could have every Friday off to attend mosque, but he would instead work at the weekend.

This was not acceptable to Mr Cherfi who subsequently refused to work at the weekend and further stopped working on the Friday, taking each one off as annual leave.

At Tribunal, Mr Cherfi claimed indirect discrimination, as a practicing Muslim this new contract put him at a disadvantage by not being able to attend mosque. To Counteract this, G4S argued that they had no choice, but to refuse to allow Mr Cherfi to attend mosque whilst on shift due to financial issues, as it would have resulted in them losing the contract.

The Tribunal ruled in G4S’s favour and ruled that they had acted proportionally to achieve a legitimate business aim, i.e. to allow the business contract to remain in operation; they had not discriminated against Mr Cherfi.

This case demonstrated that employers can put the operational needs of the business first, as long as they can prove this, and demonstrate that it is proportionate to the employee’s request. However this is not suggesting that this can be used as a smoke screen to refuse any requests of this nature. Employers must show that they have used this as a legitimate means, i.e. having first exhausted all other avenues available.

Dennis Chapman

In remembrance of Dennis Chapman 1951 -2015

Read more by this author

Getting in touch

You can contact us via the form or you can call us on 01480 455500.