A number of religious discrimination claims reached the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) last year, of which the most notable was Azmi v Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council, decided in March 2007. That case was the first (and so far only) case at this level to consider the question of justification head on ie, in what circumstances can an employer impose a policy which is likely to impact more harshly on people of a particular religion? In this case the question was whether a Muslim classroom assistant could be required to remove her veil while teaching children. The council was able to persuade the EAT that there were sound educational reasons behind the requirement, but it was also significant that it had taken great care in the way it had approached this difficult issue.

In April 2007 the Equality Act extended the anti-discrimination regime to goods and services, and also adjusted the definition of religion or belief so that it now covers people with philosophical beliefs that are not necessarily religious, and also protects people from discrimination because they lack a particular belief.

For the Azmi decision click here.