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Christian children’s worker who was forced to resign loses case

Watch Celestina Mba outside the tribunal

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An employment tribunal ruled today that 57 year-old children’s worker Celestina Mba was not constructively dismissed from her job after she was forced to resign in 2010.

Ms. Mba worked for almost three years at the Brightwell Children’s Home in Morden, a respite home for children with disabilities including autism. She has been a Christian since she was a young girl and has never worked on a Sunday.

Ms. Mba gave evidence that her beliefs were initially respected by her employer, the London Borough of Merton, which was informed before she started the job that she would have difficulties working on a Sunday, but that the Council later changed its mind and she was forced to choose between her job and her faith.

Ms Mba said that she would have worked nights and Saturdays, both unpopular shifts as people want to be with their families or go out, or she would have accepted less pay. Yet despite her offers, no compromise was accepted, and she was forced to resign.

The Judge found that there were no viable alternatives to requiring Ms Mba to work on Sundays.

However, in stark contrast, another case heard just last year, Cherfi v G4S Security Services Ltd, revealed a situation whereby an employer accommodated a Muslim employee so that he could attend the Finsbury Park Mosque, the epicentre of Islamic extremism in the United Kingdom.

Ms. Mba said:

It is impossible to speak with me and not know of my commitment to Jesus and that I will not work on the Sabbath day, yet the Tribunal found that my employers were not aware of this fact.  They also held that repeated instructionsby Merton Council to work on Sundays in violation of my faith was not a violation of my rights.

“I am amazed by this decision. I thought that this country was a Christian country and was known for its welcome and hospitality to all people. I worked hard for years at my job, and to lose it because of intolerance towards my faith is shocking to me.”

Andrea Williams, CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, said:

“We are extremely disappointed by this decision and we will consider appealing. Celestina was let down by her employers, who failed to continue to accommodate her beliefs.

“She was an employee who wished to not work on a Sunday. Her employers forced her to choose between her job and her faith. This was unacceptable, and we are disappointed that the Judge did not agree.

“There needs to be a reasonable accommodation of the Christian faith across the public sphere, for the good of all; pressure from employers against Christians expressing their faith is an increasingly regular hallmark of what Baroness Warsi has described as our “deeply intolerant culture””.


Christian Concern: Religious Freedom