As a business owner, you are automatically at risk of legal action. Lawsuits can arise from the smallest of disputes, such as a visitor suffering a trip or fall at your premises, a disgruntled client who feels that you are responsible for a recent financial loss, or a sacked employee taking you to tribunal citing discrimination and unfair dismissal.
This latter issue is possibly the most widely reported, and cases of employees suing for religious discrimination are never out of the headlines. However, the most recent religious discrimination tribunal cases have all resulted in a victory for the employer.
For example – council worker Duke Amachree, a devout Christian, was fired for gross misconduct after telling a terminally ill woman to ‘put her faith in God’. Amachree took his former employers to court, where a tribunal ruled that Wandsworth Council were justified in sacking him and that no religious discrimination had taken place.
What this and many other examples means for employers is not yet clear, as these cases are merely testing the boundaries of employment and discrimination laws. Audrey Williams, discrimination specialist at law firm Eversheds, puts it this way:
“Where’s the right balance to strike between individuals’ beliefs and their rights and entitlements? What can and can’t employers do?”
The best advice for any employer worried about this complex and thorny issue is to ensure that their business is comprehensively covered with a professional insurance policy, one which covers the costs of employment tribunal claims.