Saturday, June 25, 2011

Legal Corner - Refusal to attend Friday prayer not religious discrimination

A breath of fresh air and common sense at last. A British employment tribunal has found that a Muslim's claim that he should be allowed to leave his job in order to pray at a Mosque was not supportable.

While the article does not delve into the employees reasons for believing he could just walk off the job, IMHO this is another case of jihadi lawfare waged to expand special accommodations for Muslims.


Legal Corner - Refusal to attend Friday prayer not religious discrimination

By Sharmin Pirbhai (Employment Law Specialist)

In Cherfi v G4S Security Services Ltd 0379/10, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that an employer’s refusal to allow a Muslim security guard to leave a client’s site on Friday lunchtimes to attend Jum’ah prayers at the mosque did not amount to indirect religious discrimination. This is because the requirement for security guards to remain on site was objectively justified on account of legitimate business needs.

The employer had a security contract with the client at a particular site in Highgate at which Mr Cherfi, a Muslim, was posted. He regularly left the site on Friday lunchtimes to attend Finsbury Park Mosque for prayers.

In October 2008, G4S told Cherfi that he could no longer leave the Highgate site at lunchtimes, as G4S was contractually obliged to ensure that a specified number of security guards were present throughout operating hours. It suggested that Cherfi should work an amended work pattern of Monday to Thursday, with the option of working Saturday or Sunday but Cherfi did not wish to work at weekends and discussions did not result in agreement.

Thereafter, Cherfi stopped working Fridays, taking them off as sick leave, annual leave or authorised unpaid leave. In March 2009, G4S told him that this arrangement could not continue. Mr Cherfi subsequently brought a claim for indirect discrimination, arguing that Muslims were put at a particular disadvantage by the employer’s requirement for all security guards to remain on site on Friday lunchtimes.

An employment tribunal rejected his claim, deciding that the requirement was objectively justified. This was because G4S would suffer financial penalties and be at risk of losing the client contract if it failed to ensure that the requisite number of security guards were on site. With this in mind, G4S could only run its business properly and on a sound financial basis by engaging security guards working shifts of at least eight hours (i.e. the lunch period taken off by Cherfi could not be covered). Finally, although the requirement prevented him from attending prayers in congregation, there was a prayer room on site which he could use.

Article continues HERE.