Mr Amachree, a Christian, had been employed by Wandsworth Council as a Homelessness Prevention Officer, during which time he had an exemplary disciplinary record. Much of his work involved interviewing applicants at risk of homelessness.
Mr Amachree interviewed a potential housing client referred to in the judgment as “Ms X”. During the interview, Ms X revealed that she was suffering from an incurable disease, and Mr Amachree discussed his religious views and suggested that Ms X’s “problem was that I did not have God or faith in my life and was therefore ill as a result”.
Ms X sent a letter of complaint to Wandsworth Council, describing what Mr Amachree had said to her as a “lecture”, funded by the tax payers of the Borough.
The next day Mr Amachree was suspended on full pay and informed that he was being investigated for a potentially major offence under Wandsworth Council’s disciplinary code – that it was alleged that he “made offensive and inappropriate comments” to Ms X “relating to her state of health, her religious or personal beliefs and your religious or personal beliefs”. A further charge of breach of confidentiality was also added. Following the investigation, Wandsworth Council determined Mr Amachree’s conduct constituted gross misconduct, and he was dismissed.
Mr Amachree issued a claim alleging that his religion was the reason for his dismissal, and in being dismissed, he had been subjected to religious discrimination, and also unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal.
Wandsworth Council argued that it was not Mr Amachree’s religion which was the reason for his dismissal, but that he had made “offensive and inappropriate comments” to Ms X, contrary to their disciplinary code.
The Tribunal found that Wandsworth Council provided a convincing non-discriminatory explanation for Mr Amachree’s treatment, reasoning that “it was not on the ground of his religion that he received this treatment, but rather on the ground that he was inappropriately raising it with a service user. His religion might be the reason for his actions but it was not the reason for the actions of the Council”.
Mr Amachree’s claims were therefore dismissed.
Further comments on Religious Discrimination
I have recently written a full review of the Amachree case which will be published by the Solicitors Journal. Please follow this link to my articles on religious discrimination, written for the Guardian newspaper.