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Refusal of five-week holiday to attend religious festivals was not indirect discrimination

The EAT has upheld an employment tribunal's decision to reject a claim of indirect religious discrimination, brought by a Catholic employee, whose request for five consecutive weeks' holiday in order to attend a series of religious festivals in Sardinia was declined.

The employee asserted that the employer's practice of only allowing a maximum of three consecutive weeks' of annual leave indirectly discriminated against him on the basis that it prevented him from manifesting his religion by attending the religious festivals.

Dismissing the employee's appeal, the EAT found that the tribunal had been entitled to find that the employee's evidence about his previous attendance at the annual festivals was not true.

He had not invariably attended the whole series of festivals and, when he last was fit enough to attend, had only attended around half of the festivals which he claimed had deep religious significance for him.

The EAT also rejected the employee's argument that the tribunal had erred by weighing up the religious reasons for his desire to travel to Sardinia against other, non-religious reasons for doing so.

The tribunal had rightly focused on whether or not the asserted requirement to attend the series of festivals over a five-week period was genuine.

It found that the real reason for wanting to take the lengthy period of holiday was the desire to be with his family. (Gareddu v London Underground Ltd UKEAT/0086/16.)

This article was originally published on Practical Law's website on 8 Febraury 2017 and is reproduced with the permission of Thomson Reuters.

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