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Don't mention God: no do!
A Christian worker with an umblemished work record of 18 years who was sacked under a charge of 'gross misconduct' for mentioning God has had his appeal rejected by an employment tribunal.
There is widespread shock following the news that Duke Amachree has lost his case, having been sacked for mentioning God in the workplace. An employment tribunal has ruled that it was reasonable for Wandsworth Council to dismiss Duke, after he was sacked for gross misconduct for suggesting to a client with an incurable illness not to give up hope and to try putting her faith in God. The tribunal also found that the Council had not discriminated against Mr Amachree on the basis of his religion. In addition, the tribunal took the view that Duke had breached confidentiality by publicising his case. The decision has come as a huge surprise to Duke and to his legal team.
Duke, a father of two and committed Christian, had worked for Wandsworth Council for 18 years and had an unblemished record. Yet, as a result of the comments he made in one 45 minute housing interview, he was subject to 6 months of investigations and three interviews with the Council. His solicitor was even told by the Council that saying "God bless" to a client would require an investigation if the client complained.
Gross misconduct usually covers such behaviour as violence in the workplace, theft or other such serious conduct. Yet the client herself expressly stated that she did not want Duke to be dismissed for what he had said and Duke had never been told that such small talk in a housing interview was prohibited. The Council have always accepted that Duke's motivation in speaking to the client was purely one of compassion.
Duke, backed by the Christian Legal Centre, took his case to the tribunal where it was argued that the Council's decision to dismiss him was grossly disproportionate and unfair, and that they had discriminated against him on the basis of his religion.
Despite the evidence that was presented to the tribunal, they decided that the Council's response was reasonable. Duke and his legal team intend to appeal the decision.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, founder and director of the Christian Legal Centre said "We are stunned that the tribunal failed to recognise the draconian way in which Mr Amachree was treated and we are dismayed that they found that Mr Amachree had not been discriminated against on the grounds of his faith. This decision will send yet more shock waves through the Christian community when they realise that a couple of comments encouraging faith in God can lead to a person being dismissed for gross misconduct."
Mr Amachree said "I am devastated by the outcome. This is a sad day for Christians who simply want to live out their faith in the workplace without fear. But my heartfelt thanks goes to the Christian Legal Centre and those who have stood by me from the beginning and I know they will continue to support me."
Christian Legal Centre, 12/08/2010