Muslim prayer ruling has the potential to create chaos in the workplace, warns the NSS

IN THE wake of a legal victory by two Muslims who accused supermarket giant Tesco of “religious discrimination” over prayer room restrictions, the National Secular Society today said:

We still need to see the full judgement, but this case has a potential to create mayhem in the workplace. It appears to put religious believers in a stronger position to undermine the efficient running of a business if it impedes their religious beliefs.

Society President Terry Sanderson added:

These two Muslim men have succeeded where the Christian activists failed, to gain special rights in the workplace. We sincerely hope that Tesco will appeal this judgment.

If religious employees want time off to pray, it should only be if this can be reasonably accommodated by the employer and on their terms. Such time off should be unpaid, otherwise those not doing so are disadvantaged.

No, not looking for a lost contact lens. In some workplaces, prayer cubicles are provided for Muslim employees.

No, not looking for a lost contact lens. In some workplaces, prayer cubicles are provided for Muslim employees.

In what is believed to be the first case of religious discrimination won by Muslims in the UK, Abdirisak Aden and Mahamed Hasan, employed at Tesco’s Crick depot, were found by the Bedford Employment Tribunal to be the victims of indirect discrimination after restrictions were placed on the use of the prayer room.

The room was provided after lobbying by devout Muslims in 2008. In 2012 new “prayer time guidelines” rules were introduced. Staff had to inform managers they were going to pray and ask for a key. They had to fill in a book when they used the room, and were only allowed to pray individually rather than as a group.

The Tribunal found against Tesco and awarded the men an undisclosed sum for:

Injury to their feelings.

Christopher Fray, equality officer for the Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council (NREC), which represented the men, said the decision of the tribunal was a landmark ruling.

A large number of Muslims complained that the nature of these prayer guidelines were being used as a way of controlling and monitoring and harassing them. The Bedford Employment Tribunal upheld their claims and found they were discriminated against on the grounds of their religion. This case is a victory not only for Muslims, but for all people who wish to pray while at work. It is one of the first religious discrimination cases that Muslim complainants have won in Britain.

A Tesco spokesman said:

We take our responsibilities as an equal opportunities employer very seriously. We are considering the implications of the judge’s ruling and await the full written judgment.

Last year, in Minnesota, a food company called Diane’s Fine Desserts was accused of religious discrimination after banning female Muslim employees from wearing burqas. The ban was introduced after a worker’s garmet got caught up in machinery.  The ban of garments below knee level resulted in a walk-out by 30 Muslim staff.

A year previously, the same company – then owned by Heinz –  was accused of religious discrimination over restrictions it placed on the use of TWO prayer rooms it had set up for Muslim staff.

Hat tip: Pete H, Graham Martin-Royle and BarrieJohn.

19 responses to “Muslim prayer ruling has the potential to create chaos in the workplace, warns the NSS”

  1. AgentCormac says:

    Meanwhile, muslim free school, Al-Madinah in Derby has been forced to close after Ofsted’s findings proved so damning of its strict Islamic practices that the acting head ‘had little choice but to shut it down immediately’. According to the report (linked to below), the school’s closure is apparently going to be ’embarrassing for Education Secretary Michael Gove, who introduced free schools in 2010 in an effort to raise standards in education’. Good!

  2. Brian Jordan says:

    An undisclosed sum? I thought that only happened in out-of-court settlements. Come on, Mr. Judge – are you offering a derisory few pounds signifying a reluctant interpretation of the law, or tens of thousands because your heart bleeds over this grievous insult?
    As for non-Muslims “wishing to pray at work” – until yesterday a rediculous idea. Tomorrow, the floodgates open. The tobaccoists, as a minimum, will be popping out every couple of hours.

  3. Matt+Westwood says:

    Am I right in assuming that because of this ruling the prayer room will *not* be locked, and no longer require a key to be sought and signed for? Yippee! Open to anyone to put bacon in there!

  4. T says:

    Don’t employ muslims. Simple. I will now offer a bacon sandwich to interviewees who want a job in my business. Then eventually there will be a law demanding I employ a set % of muslims in my business. Or can I say that I am offended by fools sniffing the carpet with their arses in the air muttering platitudes to themselves.

  5. Angela_K says:

    Surely there is no legal requirement to provide a prayer room at places of work; if Tesco had no such room there wouldn’t be this problem. This will be another reason for employers not to employ muslims.

  6. L.Long says:

    Its getting to a point that PC to religion can stop a business cold. THEY have come to find a job HERE, in our society, so phuck them. If they don’t like our way then go away! I admit that our society was twisted by xtians, but that is no excuse. I I need someone working on Sundays, Saturdays, or Fridays and someone wants the job then what I have to do is NEVER ask their religion as that would be discrimination, so instead I have to write up a set of rules that covers all possible religions and sexual orientations that state that this is the way it is -tuff schite! and have them sign every page as read and understood and the Aholes would still try taking it to court (like I can afford that) and the bleeding heart juries would find against me. With insurance, medical, unemployment fees, time off for religious crap, and everything else they can think off, people are wondering why they can’t find a job, and all the businesses do contracting for no more then 1yr. It is really hard to find a good job in the US. So I run my small 1person business and don’t hire anyone, I can’t afford to do so.

  7. Bob says:

    This ruling confirms what I have felt for a long time – muzzies get preferential treatment because employers and authorities are frightened of them.

  8. Maggie says:

    Close all prayer rooms in any establishment, be it educational, commercial, medical, etc. No special dispensation to any group = no discrimination against any groups. Of course this won’t please those groups that want “positive discrimination” for their specialness. After all, what’s the point of equality if you can’t get preferential treatment?

  9. barriejohn says:

    L.Long: I’m sure that we sympathize with you, but your views sound more like intolerance. Here in GB small companies are usually not subject to the more onerous regulations that apply to bigger businesses. However, homosexuals, transgender people, ethnic minorities, etc, are a different kettle of fish to the religious – not all of whom are immigrants. As you so righly point out, Christians are also demand all sorts of special privileges, as has been highlighted on this site many times recently!

  10. Barry Duke says:

    Well, Bob, I suggest YOU start frightening folk if you want your Christian Taliban to regain power.

    Showing your face would be a good start!

  11. AgentCormac says:

    This ruling confirms what I have felt for a long time – muzzies get preferential treatment because employers and authorities are frightened of them.

    Oh, do stop bleating on you ridiculous little man!

  12. Hazel says:

    Every applicant wishing to work for me will wear western dress appropriate to the employment, or look elsewhere. Salwar kameez, sari, burqa, is not suitable workwear. What you wear at home is your business not mine.

  13. gedediah says:

    It all comes down to whether allowing the religious to observe thir rituals in the workplace can be reasonably accommodated. After all, it makes no sense to exclude a potential employee who may otherwise be a loyal hard worker. Tesco will also be considering the fact that a lot of their customers are religious too. What they shouldn’t do is allow themselves to be forced into favouring one set of reasonable demands over another.

  14. Barry Duke says:

    The ridiculous Hutton has given me a pat on the head on his ridiculous blog. Do I jump off my 31st floor balcony or open an artery with a stanley knife?

  15. barriejohn says:

    Thank you for your further comments (again, without profanity – well done, you’re getting good at this!).

    Fucking hell.

  16. Broga says:

    Unlike some others here I have never been a student of the works of Bob Hutton. I had decided on reliable authority i.e. contributors here, that Bob Hutton’s comments were, and are, worthless. However, in a spirit of enquiry and open mindedness I read the link provided by Barry Duke. And I have to say that you have to read a Hutton effusion to appreciate not just the nonsense but the deceit and cowardice that underpins it.

    That is a serious and unpleasant accusation so I must justify it. Just take one of his comments stated as fact: the bible is inerrant. Now, that can be shown to be nonsense with little trouble. The numerous contradictions, easily found, offer the following choices: if one of them is true then the other must be untrue and the bible cannot be inerrant; both may be untrue. They cannot both be true. That Hutton cannot face this fact of the contradictions, and it is a fact, reveals him to be prepared to embrace nonsense, deceit and moral cowardice.

    Not much of representative for his God, is he? Does his God welcome deceivers and cowards? Perhaps, although being cowardly I doubt it, he will explain to me the flaws in the previous paragraph.

  17. Bruce Martin says:

    The religious and their “feelings” getting hurt. Meh They need to put on their big boy and big girl pants and get over themselves.